Delhi’s five city hospitals ‘fined’ Rs 600 crore for spurning the poor

New Delhi, June 12: The Aam Aadmi Party government has ordered five top private hospitals in Delhi to deposit “unwarranted profits” of more than Rs 600 crore made by denying treatment to the poor.

The government order says Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Max Super Specialty Hospital (Saket), Shanti Mukand Hospital, Dharamshila Cancer Hospital and Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute were allotted land at concessional rates on the condition that they treat the poor for free, but failed to do so.

“These hospitals did not abide by the conditions, hence action has been initiated against them,” said Dr Hem Prakash, additional director (EWS) of the Delhi government. Officials said further action would be taken if the hospitals failed to deposit the amount within a month. Dr Hem Prakash, additional director (EWS) of the Delhi government, said the demand for depositing Rs 600 crore follows notices sent to the hospitals to explain their failure to treat the needy .

Prakash did not rule out action against more hospitals . A total of 43 private hospitals in the capital have been given land at concessional rates and are obliged to set aside 10% of their in-patient department capacity and 25% of out-patient department capacity for free treatment of the poor.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal, a member of the high court appointed committee monitoring the matter, said most hospitals were allotted land between 1960 and 1990. “The recovery amount has been calculated from the date when the hospital became operational to March 22, 2007, when the high court passed final orders on a PIL demanding implementation of the provision of free treatment to poor and action against the erring hospitals,” he said.

 Citing the Delhi high court order, Agarwal said, “There is no justification whatsoever on the part of the general, specialty or super-specialty hospitals not to comply with the mandate of the condition.
“They … must repay to the authorities and society at large for the unwarranted profits, at the cost of the poor, made by them for all these years to the extent of the percentage of free-patient treatment (in terms of money) proportionate to the number of patients treated by them during the relevant period and they must pay that money to the authorities who shall create a central corpuspool which shall be utilised for the welfare, healthcare and treatment of the poorer sections of society in government hospitals.
“Fortis healthcare Limited, which owns Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre Limited, confirmed the receipt of the government order for depositing Rs 503 crore.”EHIRCL has informed that the impugned order in its view is legally flawed and untenable. The management will challenge the same in the Honourable High Court or such relevant authority to seek suitable legal remedies available to it under law.”
Devki Devi Foundation (of which Max-Super Speciality Hospital in Saket is a unit) said, “We have received an order from DGHS, Government of NCT Delhi on 9th June. We believe the order is unfair to us, we stand fully committed in discharging all our obligations towards economically weaker sections (EWS). We are extremely serious towards fulfilling our obligations. While we study the order in detail, we will prefer an appeal against this order in the appropriate forum.”
Dr Rakesh Tandon, medical director of PSRI, said the institute had been providing free treatment to the poor more than what was warranted. “We have sent our reply to the government,” he said. Director of Dharamshila Cancer Hospital Suversha Khanna said she would submit a reply after going through the order. Shanti Mukand Hospital could not be contacted.
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