The charity commissioner’s office had received complaints about the charitable hospitals’ reluctance to admit poor patients under the quota reserved for them
All private hospitals in Maharashtra run by public charity trusts have been asked to add ‘charitable’ to their names so that poor patients easily know they can avail free or concessional treatment under the reserved quota. There are 430 charitable hospitals in Maharashtra, including 74 are in Mumbai.
Shivkumar Dige, State Charity Commissioner, issued a directive to this effect to all such hospitals last week. “It is difficult for patients to know if the hospital is charitable or not in the absence of the word. Therefore, mentioning the word ‘charitable’ is mandatory so that poor patients can avail free or concessional treatment they rightfully deserve,” the directive issued on July 19 says. It is applicable to all the government-aided private hospitals. The commissioner’s office also asked all these hospitals to inform it about the compliance of the order.
Over the past few years, the charity commissioner’s office had received complaints about the charitable hospitals’ reluctance to admit poor patients under the quota reserved for them. As per section 44 A of the Maharashtra Public Trust Act, private charitable hospitals are mandated to reserve 10 per cent of their beds for poor patients and 10 per cent for economically weaker sections of the society.
While those with income below INR 85,000 per annum are given free treatment at these hospitals, those with income of INR 1.6 lakh per annum are charged at concessional rates.
“The state, therefore, has 5,000 beds for poor patients and 5,000 for the weaker sections as clearly mentioned on the commissioner’s website. But it has been noticed that most of the time, these beds of these charitable hospital remain vacant,” it said.
Virendra Mishra, general secretary of NGO Srijan, which holds medical camps in the city for needy people, said, “The move is commendable. It will empower the poor patients.We all know that charitable hospitals get several benefits, including discounted land on long lease and subsidies in utility bills, waivers and exemptions from income tax etc, but most of them hardly pass these benefits to the needy patients.”