Action ordered against hospitals for violating terms

NEW DELHI, MARCH 3. Delhi High Court today directed Delhi Development Authority and the Land and Development Office to take immediate action against hospitals violating their land allotment agreement which had a condition for providing free treatment to poor patients.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice B C Patel and Justice A K Sikri also told the authorities to file an Action Taken Report within two weeks.

Earlier, a Central Government Committee constituted by the High Court to inspect the records of private hospitals in the capital, which had received government land free or at throwaway prices on the provision of 25 per cent free treatment, had found that several such institutions were violating the allotment conditions.

In its report submitted to the division bench, the Committee said it found seven of the 18 hospitals alloted land with the condition of providing free treatment, violating their land allotment agreement.

Out of 23 hospitals alloted land with conditions of providing certain percentage of free service -- in Indoor and Outdoor Patient Departments (IPD and OPD) -- only 18 were functioning while five had not yet started functioning.

The Committee found Vidya Sagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Dharamshila Cancer Hospital, Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute, Mai Kamali Wali Charitable Trust Hospital, Jaipur Golden Hospital, Shanti Mukund Hospital and National Heart Institute violating their allotment terms.

Amar Jyoti Trust was not fully functional, Escorts Heart Institute had not earmarked any free beds, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Bharwati Hospital refused to furnish details.

Gujar Mal Modi Hospital, Deepak Gupta Hospital, Venu Eye Institute and Research Centre, Indian Spinal Injuries Research Centre, Sanjay Hospital and Kotakkal Ayurveda Vaidyasala were found to be observing the ratio of 25 per cent beds for free treatment.

However, even in hospitals found to be following the terms, the Committee said the extent of free treatment which varied from hospital to hospital left much to be desired.

In the hospitals which were providing beds for free treatment, the treatment was not totally free. Bed charges, food, nursing care, consultant's charges and surgical treatment were only free. In some hospitals, basic medicines and basic investigations were provided free, but it appears that in all the hospitals consumables, expensive medicines, devices and implants had to be paid for, the report said.

It added that for that matter even Government hospitals like G B Pant and AIIMS were not providing these services free to patients in the general ward.

It was noted that the hospitals providing free treatment had not publicised the free services available in the hospital. Such institutions should display prominently information on free facility and eligibility criterion for availing these, it suggested.

The report recommended that in order to enforce the provision of free treatment, the criteria of poor should be uniform and as specified by the Planning Commission.