Patients stuck between hospital and bank

No respite:A woman takes rest as people line up outside a bank in PTI

No respite:A woman takes rest as people line up outside a bank in PTI  

Many unable to get medicine as pharmacists refuse to take old notes; private hospitals ask govt. for exemption

Shiv Kumar, a patient with hip injuries seeking treatment at AIIMS, was in a fix on Saturday. He was unsure if he should stand in queue at the hospital for treatment or outside a bank for withdrawing cash.

He needed money for medical exams and x-rays, the total cost of which was estimated to be around Rs.7,000.

“I have cash in my pocket, but they are all old notes in denominations of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000. The pathological labs have refused to accept them. I have no ATM cards,” said Mr. Kumar, a driver from Bulandshahar.

Mr. Kumar is not alone. Patients struggled to buy medicines and their kin had no cash to pay for food or accommodation.

Diwan Singh, a relative of a patient undergoing treatment at AIIMS for neurological problems, said he was forced to vacate a hotel that refused to accept his money.

“I have been spending my nights at the hospital’s premises,” Mr. Singh said.

No cash

Sunil, a native of Bihar, who is at Safdarjung Hospital for treatment of his son for cancerous growth in his head, said he was counting every penny.

“We are leaving for home tonight as it is difficult to continue without cash in this city,” he said.

Ravinder, relative of another patient, said he had fallen short of cash even to buy food.

“For the last couple of days, I have been eating at the Jan Aahar outlet at Rs.15 per meal. But soon I will have no money to buy food from there either,” he said.

There is a canteen at AIIMS, but the staff at the counter won’t accept Rs.500 or 1,000 notes. The canteen does not offer the facility of paying by card either.

“If I don’t have loose change to return to the customers, how can I accept their notes,” said a staffer there.

The situation was similar at most chemists and path labs outside AIIMS and the nearby Safdarjung Hospital.

“We can’t help you if you offer Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes,” said Chandra Mohan, owner of a chemist shop outside Safdarjung hospital.

Pramod, who works at a path lab, offered a similar response. “I will take a call depending on the cost of your tests,” he said.

No takers

Ramavati Devi, relative of a patient, hopped from one shop to another in the hope someone would give her loose change for Rs.500. “I need medicines worth Rs.84, but I am willing to give Rs.100. But no one is accepting the Rs.500 I have,” she said. Similar scenes were witnessed at private hospitals. The chemists at Mata Chana Devi Hospital in Janakpuri refused to accept the banned notes unless customers bought medicines worth the entire amount.

Private hospitals

At Kalawati Children’s Hospital in New Delhi area, a father was in tears as he had no usable cash. His only son was down with tuberculosis and he wanted him to be treated by doctors of a private hospital. “But I have no money even to take my son from here,” he said in tears.

Meanwhile, leading private sector hospitals, including Fortis Healthcare and Paras Healthcare, have urged the government to allow them to accept Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 denomination notes. The government has authorised only government hospitals to accept these notes from patients.

Kin of patients face

a tough time;

have no cash to

pay for food or accommodation

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