Constitution of India guarantees free healthcare services to all the citizens of its nation and staying true to the constitution, government provides very cheap medical facilities in the hospitals run by the government. We agree that public hospitals provide very cheap and at times, free medical services to all but the fact is everyone whether rich or poor prefers private hospitals over public hospitals because of the sole reason that private hospitals provide better services and those who can afford it always go for the private healthcare centres. Hence, a large part of economically weaker section of the country either remain deprived of such facilities or have to pool in all of their resources to be able to afford private services. Keeping aside what the government has done or will do for providing better healthcare services to the poor, let us get to what is being done now to ensure that every citizen of the country gets decent medical services. Supreme Court’s order on Monday is for sure a step closer in providing better healthcare to poor.
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Supreme Court in it’s order made it mandatory for all the private hospitals of the national capital, which were given land on concessional rates, to provide free treatment to a percent of patients belonging to economically weaker sections. Such hospitals have to provide 10% treatment to In Patient Department (IPD) and 25% to Out Patient Department (OPD) because they were given land at a very cheap price. It is also so because providing free treatment to poor was one of the main clauses in the lease deed. Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said any violation of this order or any resistance by the hospitals with respect to the number of beds to be reserved for poor patients won’t be tolerated and will lead to cancellation of lease.
The Apex Court said that proper monitoring of the functions of private hospitals which are obliged to follow this order will be done to ensure that poor people are treated free of cost. Delhi Government has also been directed by the Supreme Court to file periodic reports on compliance of the order.
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However, patients can claim free treatment only in those hospitals that were allocated lands at concessional rates, Moolchand Medcity, St Stephen’s, Rockland and Sitaram Bhartia Institute of Science and Research are four hospitals filed separate cases in 2013 and 2014 claiming that they did not receive lands at concessional rates and hence are not obliged to provide free treatment. The court hence exempted the four hospitals from providing free services to the poor. This ruling of Supreme Court will for sure turn out to be a boon for many and specially for those who reside in and around Delhi. Now the question is what about residents of other states? There is a dire need of similar order to be passed out across the nation.