Delhi govt hospitals to stock all drugs, so patients get them for free

Starting next month, pharmacies in Delhi government hospitals will give all medicines prescribed by doctors free to patients. Also, the list of tests for which patients are made to pay user charges would also be pruned.

Announcing plans to launch a patient helpline from February 1, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, told reporters:“Doctors will be allowed to prescribe only those drugs which are in a list prepared by the central procurement agency.”

Currenty, many patients end up buying some of the prescribed medicines from private chemists.

All medical superintendents have been told to get the central list of prescribed drugs checked and updated by doctors so that the process can start from February 1.

“We know this would not be the end of all problems faced by patients. The free distribution of all prescribed drugs would just be a beginning for improvement,” he said, addressing media persons along with Health Minister Satyendar Jain.

Kejriwal hinted that the facility of free lab tests, which is currently available to poor patients, may be extended to all patients.

“Currently user charges are collected from general category patients. But medical superintendents have indicated that the process of checking the veracity of BPL cards itself consumes a lot of resources,” said Kejriwal.

Some doctors have suggested that doing away with user charges for all patients for some tests may be a better idea, he said.

 We are calculating the financial implications of a waiver of user charges for most tests and other services for all. Give us one more week and we shall share the information after calculations, he said.

He said all hospitals have been told to study the Essential Drug List and update it with their requirements so that there is a stock of medicines for three months.

The list of user charges for various tests in hospitals would also be pruned. “Some consumables like stents would still be paid for by patients,” he said, adding that a new and shorter list of applicable user charges will be released within a week.

If a patient does not get any prescribed drug in a hospital he can take a photo of the prescription slip and upload it on the helpline, he said.

“The success of the new system will be gauged from the flow of calls on the helpline. If we get a lot of calls, then we will assume that the system has collapsed.

But if there are less complaints, it would reflect that the system has worked,” he said.

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