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Facing financial crisis, 142 private, government hospitals shut down in WB

Facing acute financial crisis and other administrative problems around 142 private and government hospitals, including eye-care centres, across the state have been shut down. Accordingly, Swasthya Sathi Scheme (SSS) will no longer be available to patients with the closure of healthcare units. The hospitals have come up mostly in districts, including Kolkata, during the past six years since 2017.

Sources at health department HQ Swasthya Bhaban said most of the hospitals accommodating 20 to 50 indoor beds each have been facing financial trouble owing to some partnership problems and non-renewal of licenses under the state clinical establishment regulation rules. For instance, 100 out of the 142 hospitals are eye-care and maternity units.

The owners of these private healthcare units feel that these establishments are no more financially viable to provide services to patients. Two small hospitals in the southern part of the city and Behala area respectively have also suspended operations closing down shutters, the sources said. There are also 12 to 14 government hospitals in the list of the 142 ‘inactive hospitals’, where the SSS initiatives have been dropped because of merger of these public sector units with superspeciality hospitals in respective districts. For instance, a rural hospital at Jalpaiguri has been merged with a state-run superspeciality hospital in the district.

The SSS facilities for beneficiaries would be available in the superspeciality hospital, instead of the rural hospital, sources said. A senior official in the health department said, “Most of the 142 hospitals are private and their owners were proactive to close down units because they were incurring loss for years. Apart from these hospitals, we have ordered several others to stop admission of patients on charge of violating clinical establishment rules.”

“Around 730 new hospitals, including government and public, have come up during the past four to five years in the state,” the official attached with the clinical establishment cell at Swasthya Bhaban said. “Thousands of patients won’t get benefits of the SSS following the health department’s decision to bring 142 hospitals out of the purview of the scheme,” said Dr Sajal Biswas, secretary of Service Doctors’ Forum. The Statesman

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