Delhi’s private hospitals told to treat poor free (Lead)

July 25th, 2011 - 11:06 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday directed private hospitals in Delhi to give free treatment to poor patients referred to them by government institutions, till a policy on the issue is ready.

The apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik said this would be the arrangement till private hospitals and the Delhi government hammer out a common policy on giving free treatment to poor patients.

The court said that so long the policy of free treatment was not put in place, the private hospitals would maintain a separate account of expenses incurred by them on treatment to poor patients. These expanses would be factored in while making the policy.

The court asked private hospitals to submit within 10 days their proposals to the government on extending free treatment to poor people.

The court asked private hospitals and the government to work out a common policy applicable to all the medical centres.

Senior Counsel Rohinton Nariman and Rajiv Dhawan, appearing for private hospitals, told the court that patients under free category were welcome but they were not approaching the hospitals.

Justice Raveendran said: “We will issue directions that over-crowded government hospitals should send their patients to these (private) hospitals.”

Appearing for petitioner activists’ group Social Jurist, counsel Ashok Agarwal told the court that the government was not serious about free treatment of poor patients. “If the government was serious, then this plea would not have come before this court.”

Nariman highlighted the high cost of cancer treatment and its financial implication for private hospitals. He said that beyond a certain level the cost of treatment of poor patients should be reimbursed by the government otherwise it would lead to hospitals’ bankruptcy.

The court directed the listing of the matter after four weeks.

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