Patients forced to buy medicines outside despite govt's free scheme

Patients forced to buy medicines outside despite govt's free scheme
Even though the district hospital has launched the Pradhan Mantri Janaoushadi programme and opened generic medical outlets in its campus, the doctors have not stopped giving the patients prescriptions and asking them to go to private medical stores.

When asked about this discrepancy the hospital authorities admit that there are certain 'teething problems' that they are trying to overcome and soon the Janaoushadi program and generic medical stores will become fully functional. "Then this practice of issuing 'chits' for private medical stores will stop," a doctor said.

When DH did a 'reality check' to ascertain the truth in the allegation of patients that the 'chit' system was still in practice, the allegation turned out to be true. Standing at the exit of the hospital this reporter found scores of patients heading towards private medical hospitals with prescriptions.

Lakshamma, the mother of a patient with kidney stones said that she came to the hospital believing that all the medicines given to her son would be free under the PM Janaoushadi scheme. But the doctors gave her a prescription for some injectibles to be bought at private medical stores outside. "I had to spend Rs. 1000 on those medicines," she lamented. Further probe into the matter revealed that the actual MRP on the injectible was Rs 240. But the private medical store had charged Lakshamma Rs 970 for it.

Most patients like Lakshamma who spoke to this reporter expressed their helplessness in such a situation where they have to care for their dear ones who are ill and can't question a doctor's opinion on the matter. "A government hospital doctor had said that my aunt requires this medicine immediately," said Anand another aggrieved family member of a patient. "How can I question his decision? I have to get the medicines even if they are expensive outside," he added.

About two months ago Health Minister Ramesh Kumar who visited the hospital had announced that the goverment would make all medicines required by the hospital available at all times and that poor patients need not spend a single pie for their treatment there. He had specifically instructed the hospital's doctors to cease issuing 'chits' for medication to be bought outside. He had even warned them of penal action if the chit system continues. All this has turned into a big hoax felt the patients.

Meanwhile, before the hospital opened nine private pharmacies and three private diagnostic centres opened nearby. They are all doing roaring business now.  The district health officer Dr Ravishankar has assured to look into the matter.
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