District and taluk hospitals outsource food for patients, incur big jump in expenses

The expenditure on food provided for in-patients in government hospitals at taluk and district centres has gone up, thanks to the decision to outsource ready food. Even in hospitals where the basic infrastructure facilities required for cooking are available, the officers have gone for outsource of ready food, incurring huge expenses to hospitals.

For example, the taluk hospital at Sagar in Shivamogga district, despite having a kitchen, has opted to outsource cooked food. As per the rates prevailing last year, the hospital paid ₹33 per patient a day to the service provider who cooked food utilising the infrastructure and manpower in the hospital. The diet included coffee/tea with bread, besides two meals a day.

Big jump

However, under the current system, where a private person is supplying cooked food, the hospital has to pay ₹190 per day per patient. The diet chart has been altered to include banana, egg and vegetable curry. The hospitals have to bear the cost from its resources, which includes collection of fee from patients.

Dr. Parappa, Administrative Medical officer of Sagar hospital, said that tender was allotted through a transparent system. “Earlier, the cost per patient per day was ₹33 because it did not include any charges other than what was spent on foodgrains. The expense of fuel (LGP), building and support staff was not included. Then food was prepared in the hospital itself. Now, cooked food is supplied. We have included egg, banana and vegetable curry in the diet and we are getting ready food for the patients. Hence, the cost has increased and it cannot be compared with the old price,” he said.

The Department of Health and Family Welfare in its circular in December 2021 stated that the institutions, where the infrastructure facilities were ready, should not go for outsourcing cooked food. However, officers of many hospitals have opted for outsourcing, despite having the infrastructure facilities.

When The Hindu contacted D. Randeep, Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare, he said, individual hospitals would take decisions on food as per the local requirement. “If certain hospitals have gone for outsourcing cooked food, despite having necessary infrastructure facilities, we will look into it,” he said.

Regarding the rates, the officer said the department would look into complaints of exorbitant rates if any. “The medical superintendents and local committees look after the pricing,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 9:14:17 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/district-and-taluk-hospitals-outsource-food-for-patients-incur-big-jump-in-expenses/article65560665.ece