Fake BPL certificates make matters worse

Fake BPL certificates make matters worse

Quota for poor patients is sometimes misused, the needy suffer

If government hospitals complain that patients are being turned away, private hospitals have their own version of events. Sources in the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) and private hospitals claim that the quota for poor patients was being misused at times by people who are “aware of the scheme” and “not genuinely poor”. 

“Churning out false income certificates is not a difficult task in Delhi. People aware of the scheme often misuse it,” says a  DHS source.

However, hospitals cannot challenge patients on their financial status if they produce valid documents. 

“Many patients carrying BPL cards do not really belong to the economically weaker section and this is gross misuse of the facility. However, as per directives of the government, hospital authorities cannot challenge and verify the credentials of such pseudo poor patients,”  says Dr D S Rana, chairperson (board of management), Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

“This increases the waiting period for deserving patients," he adds.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital  also runs free  OPDs for  three hours daily on all working days.

“This is as per the wishes of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Trust Society. We are also providing 24x7 free casualty services. This is in addition to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota,” says Dr Rana.

An official from Saket City

Hospital official cited the case of a married woman whose father is a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holder and she misused the facility of free delivery by showing that she is dependent on her father.
“Patients misuse the scheme when they find treatment expensive here,” says the official.

Another major chunk of the rule-breakers are patients who get admitted in the paid category when free beds are not available.

They later claim their BPL status to seek free treatment and claim refund, according to some hospitals.
“Poor patients often take admission in the paid category even if no free beds are available. Later, they seek a transfer to the free quota of beds. They also forward a complaint to the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) and claim refund of the paid bill,” said a source in the DHS.

According to rules, the DHS can compel the hospital to refund the bill only if the patient was turned away when free beds were available there.
In a recent case, an amount of Rs 1.5 lakh was refunded by a private hospital after the department intervened. 
However, some hospitals claim they offer beds to patients for free even if their capacity is full.

“If the patient is genuinely poor, we try to accommodate him even if the capacity of the hospital in the EWS quota is full. Poor patients are usually not turned away from our premises,” says Dr Naveen Kumar, nodal officer at Batra Hospital & Medical Research Centre.

“Also, as nodal officers we sensitise poor patients in the OPD that they can avail treatment for free,” adds Kumar.

At VIMHANS, nodal officer Ravi says,“We go beyond the standard parameters to accommodate poor patients.”  

Welfare officers at government hospitals, however, refuted that private hospitals raise awareness among patients.

“It is in very few cases that patients are made aware of the EWS quota by the nodal officers there. Without referral forms, very few hospitals receive patients graciously,” says a patient welfare officer (PWO) at Guru Nanak Eye Centre.

Meanwhile, some hospitals claim the quota is being used by government hospitals to push the patient traffic to the private institutions.

“Just because they have the option of referring poor patients to private hospitals, these government hospitals would send patients even after admitting them just for the sake of it,” says B K Dadu, nodal officer at Primus Super Speciality Hospital.

The hospital has fulfilled only 0.68 per cent of in-patient quota in the last year.
“This is because the hospital is located in the embassy area and it is an off-route location for patients to access. We are providing free treatment to all poor patients who come here,” says Dadu.