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Maharashtra govt to audit Pune charitable hospitals following complaints

The district monitoring committee for charitable hospitals on Monday held a review meeting with charitable hospitals in Pune city to discuss laxity on the part of the hospitals towards effective implementation of the Indigent Patients’ Fund (IPF). The committee has received complaints against multiple charitable hospitals for refusing treatment to needy patients under the scheme, officials said.

The meeting was headed by district collector, Rajesh Deshmukh while elected members of the legislative assembly; district civil surgeon and monitoring committee member, Dr Nagnath Yempalay; and charity commissionerate officials were among those present. Representatives of charitable hospitals namely Ruby Hall Clinic, Sancheti Hospital, Jehangir Hospital, Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, Inlaks and Budhrani Hospital, Inamdar Multi Specialty Hospital, and Sahyadri Multi Specialty Hospital among others were present.

Dr Yempalay informed that the committee has received several complaints about refusal of treatment from prominent charitable hospitals. “The orders have been issued to conduct an audit of these hospitals. Further action against these hospitals will be taken after the audit. Many patients were even asked to pay a deposit despite the treatment being provided free or at discounted rates under the scheme,” he said.

Under the Indigent Patients’ Fund (IPF) scheme framed by the Bombay High Court (HC) and rolled out in September 2006, all charitable hospitals in the state have to allocate 2% of their gross billing to help indigent or economically weak patients. This aid has to be in the form of free treatment to those with an annual income below ₹85,000 and at 50% discounted billing for patients whose families’ annual income does not exceed ₹1.8 lakh. Charitable hospitals get FSI, and concessions in water, power, customs, sales and income tax among others.

There are 58 charitable hospitals in Pune, 74 in Mumbai, and 430 across the rest of the state. Patients from economically weaker sections get free or discounted treatment under the Indigent Patients’ Fund (IPF) scheme at these hospitals. All charitable hospitals have the mandate to earmark and reserve 10% of their beds for indigent patients to be treated free-of-cost, and 10% of beds for economically weaker sections.

Dr Yempalay said that all hospitals have been instructed to put up boards displaying the names and numbers of authorised persons heading the IPF schemes at these hospitals. Oftentimes, the patients have to run from pillar to post looking for officials handling the IPF scheme. “The hospitals have been asked to also start providing free outpatients’ department facility to needy patients under the scheme,” he said.

Gopal Phadke, who heads the IPF scheme at Jehangir Hospital, said that the meeting was all about the alleged complaints and recommendations of the elected members, and the hospitals did not get a chance to speak about their problems. “The charitable hospitals too face several problems while implementing the scheme but no one is bothered about it. We have asked the committee to give us in writing to provide free OPD to needy patients under the scheme.” Hindustan Times

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