Free bed quota for poor goes waste

Fewer patients referred to pvt hospitals

Despite overcrowding at government hospitals, the number of poor people seeking free treatment at identified private hospitals has come down in the past few weeks.

The real time data which shows the number of free beds available at any given time in these hospitals indicates lesser use of the facility, said a member of the EWS monitoring committee.

Patients belonging to the economically weaker section (EWS) can claim free treatment at 43 identified private hospitals in the city.

These hospitals have a 25 per cent quota for them in the outdoor patient department (OPD) and 10 per cent for those who need to be admitted.

There was a marked increase in occupancy of free beds at these hospitals till September 17. However, the numbers have started declining ever since.

Of a total 636 free beds, over 300 beds were unoccupied on Friday at 9 am, shows the real time data of the Directorate of Health Services (DHS).

“Every day lesser number of beds are being utilised. It has come down to 50 per cent against September 17’s data when the occupancy of beds had reached 72 per cent of the quota,” said Ashok Agarwal, Member, EWS Monitoring Committee.

A letter has been forwarded regarding this issue to the Health Secretary.

“Out of 15 free beds at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, 10 were vacant today morning. Similarly, in Dharmshila Hospital & Research Centre, out of 20 free-beds, 18 were unoccupied and out of 40 free-beds, 31 were vacant in Max Balaji Hospital, Patparganj,” said Agarwal.

The data showed that 11 out of 14 free beds in Shanti Mukund were vacant. Shanti Mukund was issued a showcause notice by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) recently for turning away poor patients.

However, several free beds left unoccupied at these private hospitals suggest that there is poor patient referral from government hospitals.

There has not been an increase in complaints of patients being turned away from these hospitals in the past few weeks.

“This shows that there is poor patient referral despite the presence of patient welfare officers in government hospitals. The Delhi government has stopped advertising free-beds facilities in the identified private hospitals through TV channels and FM which might also have contributed to this situation,” said Agarwal.

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