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Draw up workable scheme for free treatment to poor patients: Supreme court

The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Delhi government to draw up a “workable scheme” for the 27 city private hospitals to provide free treatment to poor patients which they are obliged to in exchange for getting land at concessional rates.

 The Supreme court also asked the city government to file an affidavit stating the kind of treatment being provided to poor patients in the 27 private hospitals.

Under the scheme, the 27 private hospitals are to provide free treatment to patients from weaker sections at 10 percent of the hospital bed-strength.

The apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik issued the direction when Delhi government’s assertion that 27 private hospitals were providing complete treatment to poor patients was contested by Dharamshila Cancer hospital.

The court also asked the Delhi government to hold another round of meeting with the representatives of 10 hospitals which were not extending their free medical facilities to the patients from weaker sections of the society to formulate a scheme.

The court told the Delhi government that a line had to be drawn on the cost that these hospitals will bear on extending free treatment. In some cases, like in the treatment of cancer, the cost of medicine is very high and hospitals may not bear it, the court said.

“Some kind of transparency has to be there. Some scheme has to be worked out. Otherwise they will turn away the poor patients. There has to be some workable scheme,” said Justice Raveendran.

The court was told that the private hospitals were given land at concessional rates with a provision that they would provide free treatment to patients coming from weaker sections that is 10 percent of their hospital bed-strength.

Asking Delhi government not to delay in putting in place the scheme so that the private hospitals may not wriggle out of it, the court asked the city government to appoint a nodal officer who would direct the poor patients to private hospitals for free treatment.

The court asked the Delhi government to file its affidavit and give it to the contesting hospital and directed listing of the matter on Sep 1, 2011

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