State probes if private hospitals have been charitable enough
Teams of officials from the public health department who visited the 53 hospitals registered under the Charitable Trust Act learnt that 49 of them haven't been reserving 20% of their beds for the poor and needy
The state government is determined to rein in private hospitals registered under the Charitable Trust Act. A recent drive undertaken by the state public health department has revealed that 49 of these hospitals have not provided the mandatory 20 per cent beds to poor and needy patients. Popular medical facilities like Wadia, Cumballa Hill and Bombay hospitals have not done their bit to give back to society, the visits have revealed.
Fifty-three teams consisting of state government officials conducted surprise checks and went through the records of the 53 hospitals recently. Each team had an Income Tax official who scrutinised the accounts maintained by the hospitals. The teams have collected data that will now be scrutinised by the additional chief secretary of the department.
As per the rules, hospitals registered under the Charity Act have to reserve 20 per cent of their beds for patients from the economically weaker sections and spend two per cent of their annual revenue to provide free treatment to people below the poverty line (BPL). The government recently decided that families with an annual income of Rs 50,000 can avail of such treatment, raising the ceiling from the earlier Rs 20,000.
Soon, the records will go online, and be monitored directly by the government, said Public Health Minister Suresh Shetty. The drive has also revealed that Hinduja, Lilavati and Bombay hospitals have not opened indigent patient fund (IPFs), mandatory to offer treatment to the poor. Some of the hospitals have even charged fees that are higher than the prescribed norms.
Meanwhile, a legislative panel headed by Minister of State for Law and Judiciary Bhaskar Jadhav reviewed the scheme at a meeting attended by officers from the charity commissioner’s office, public health, law and judiciary and urban development departments. The committee has 25 members from both the houses of the State Legislature. Jadhav said that in the current financial year, 430 upscale hospitals across the state have spent Rs 29.5 crore on providing medical treatment to poor and needy patients.