Members of the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum have expressed displeasure at the Union Health Ministry's attempt to increase user charges being levied on patients coming to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences here for treatment.
The Forum, which comprises doctors from the Institute, scientists and students among others, said over the weekend that “the move is clearly aimed at all-out commercialisation of services at the Institute”.
In a statement, the Forum said the Government had sought details of the costs incurred in various procedures and diagnostic tests from the heads of different departments at the Institute as compared to the market rates.
“It has also required details of manpower involved, specialists, surgeons, doctors, nurses, and all other supporting para-medical staff along with their salaries, time required for each procedure, so that their cost can be co-related with the procedures,” the Forum said. “By this move the Government has made it clear that it is trying to ensure that the full cost incurred on providing various services is recovered from the patients. The Government has also sought suggestion from the department heads whether to recover the cost of service in full or to the extent of drugs, consumables etc. so that the same are replenished timely out of the fees collected,” said the Forum.
“Total recovery of the costs incurred on providing various services at par with the market costs is an essential condition to be fulfilled before private parties can be enticed for partnering the government in running the affairs at the Institute in the public-private partnership mode,” noted the release.
“The Institute is among the few medical centres of excellence left in the country where the poorest of the poor can get the best medical facility at nominal cost,” said a member of the Forum.
“Also another queer thing about this debate on increasing user charges is that those who push for their implementation invariably have their medical costs paid for by the public exchequer. However, those who would be at the receiving end of the user charges hardly have a voice in this debate. We are seeking the help of the Institute Faculty Association, Resident Doctors' Association, students union, nurses and employees union to oppose the move to increase the users charges,'' said the member.