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Private Hospitals Ignore Deal to Provide Free Treatment

New Delhi: Only three private hospitals out of the 26 land beneficiaries in the capital comply with the lease agreement to provide free treatment to poor patients,// according to a report submitted by the government to the Delhi High Court.

The Delhi Development Authority and the Land & Development Organization (L&DO) of the Delhi government had allotted 70 plots to various trusts and societies to establish hospitals out of which only 26 are currently operational. While DDA had allotted 24 of these 26 plots, L&DO had leased out two on an agreement that free treatment be provided to 25 and 70 percent of the patients respectively.

Appearing before a bench of Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice H.R. Malhotra Friday, the government counsel said 23 hospitals including Escorts, Apollo, Jeevan Anmol, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Dharamshila Cancer Hospital did not provide free treatment to a single patient.

During surprise visits over the last month, a court-appointed committee found that three hospitals - Venu Eye Centre, Indian Spinal Injury Hospital and Arya Parakal Vaidyashala - had provided free treatment to 25 percent of the total patients.

The government submitted the Quereshi Committee report, which recommended that the private hospitals be forced to provide free treatment to 10 percent of indoor patients and 25 percent of outdoor patients.

The Quereshi committee was formed in accordance to a High Court order Dec 13, 2005, to frame a policy for private hospitals in the capital.

"The purpose of allotment of land at the cost of public money was defeated as the hospitals did not adhere to the terms of the agreement," the court said in its order Friday.

The free treatment to a poor patient should include free bed, medicine and other clinical tests, the court added. It has now adjourned the matter till Feb 19 for further hearing.

The committee, headed by Maninder Acharya, submitted a status report saying it visited 26 hospitals and found that not a single poor patient had been admitted to 23 of the hospitals.

The committee formed by the Delhi High Court comprises the Delhi health secretary, eminent advocates and government officials to monitor the implementation of its directives for free treatment to poor patients in private hospitals.


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