A delegation of the Association of Hospitals of Eastern India (AHEI), representing a number of private hospitals in West Bengal, met the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission (WBCERC) on Friday to discuss the panel’s August 22 advisory asking private medical facilities to revert to bed charges that were applicable on March 1. The panel had also requested the hospitals to offer patients a 10 per cent discount on medicines and 20 per cent discount on consumables.
The advisory was issued following complaints of some hospitals overcharging Covid-19 patients. But most private hospitals affiliated to the AHEI have expressed strong reservations about the advisory, saying it will place “financial constraints” on them.
“We had a fruitful meeting with Justice Ashim Kumar Banerjee, chairman of the WBCERC, on Friday. Since this was the first meeting, we presented our concerns to him and he gave us a patient hearing. He clarified that the discount on medicines and consumables are only for cash patients. He also assured us that he will look into the prices of some of the medicines, which are not easily available or have a high demand. In regards to bed charges, which a recent advisory asked us to price as per the rate of March 1, 2020, he urged us to continue with it till December 31, after which the commission will reconsider. Both Justice Banerjee and the AHEI members agree that this is a battle we need to fight together and we pledged our total support to the commission and the state government. We also agreed to meet more in the future,” said AHEI president and AMRI Hospitals Group CEO Rupak Barua.
Justice (retired) Banerjee said, “In the meeting, they basically focussed on two points — one is bed charge. Their financial year starts from April, so they had revised bed charges in April. We suggested that they wait for sometime, and we will think about it. The second challenge they have is to give discounts on medicines, which we clarified is not applicable to corporate or insurance clients.”
Meanwhile, the regulatory body said it had asked the South 24 Parganas District Magistrate to initiate an inquiry into a private hospital after a Covid-19 patient’s family accused it of refusing to share his medical report and demanding Rs 1 lakh to keep it a secret. The medical facility has been identified as Jagannath Gupta Hospital.
“The hospital allegedly demanded Rs 1 lakh for keeping a Covid-positive report a secret, and assured treatment. We have asked the District Magistrate of South 24 Parganas to conduct an enquiry locally,” Justice Banerjee said in a webinar.
According to the regulatory body, in the last week of July the son of a 68-year-old patient took his father to the hospital after he developed Covid-19 symptoms. The hospital allegedly confirmed that the patient was Covid-positive, but refused to share the report. It then demanded Rs 1 lakh for treatment, and assured the family it would be kept a secret.
The family refused the offer as they are covered under the state health scheme, and took the 68-year-old to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines