New Delhi: Two city hospitals are under the lens of the Supreme Court for alleged failure to treat adequate number of poor patients despite receiving public land on concessional rates.
A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana recently issued notice to Moolchand Hospital and St Stephens Hospital on an appeal filed by an NGO against a 2014 order of Delhi high court that exempted them from the liability of treating poor patients to the extent of 10% IPD and 25% OPD.
The HC had struck down certain orders of Centre and Delhi government directing the hospitals to strictly follow the policy of providing free treatment to 25% OPD patients and 10% IPD patients on the ground it violated constitutional rights. In its order, HC had held that while the state’s effort to maximize access to public health systems at no cost or minimum cost is in public interest, it can’t be done through executive orders. HC asked the government to pass a law if it wants the hospitals to provide quota wise free treatment to poor patients.
“This court is of the opinion that the hospitals which benefitted from allotment or leases at concessional rates and in whose cases, neither the allotment letter nor the lease deed contained any requirement to provide free medical facilities were nevertheless obliged to extend such benefits, and that the central government/government of NCT of Delhi had the power to issue directions in that regard, are untenable,” the HC bench had noted in 2014.
However Social Jurist in its SLP argued before the apex court that the HC erred in exempting these hospitals from providing free treatment to EWS category patients.
The NGO wanted the court to endorse the Delhi government orders, where it had laid down that the conditions of free patient treatment shall be 25% of patients for OPD and 10% of beds in the IPD. This percentage of patients will not be liable to pay any expenses in the hospital. The hospital charging any money shall be liable for action, the government had said.
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