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Delhi HC Directs Streamlining Financial Assistance to Poor Patients in Public Hospitals

Written by : Jayati Dubey

May 13, 2024

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The court's directives aim to ensure equitable access to healthcare services for all, addressing challenges faced by those seeking free medical treatment.

In a recent development, the Delhi High Court (HC) has directed the central and state governments, as well as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), to ensure hassle-free financial assistance to poor patients in public hospitals within the city.

The directive comes with a deadline of four weeks, with an action taken report to be filed by October 15.

Additionally, the HC has instructed the implementation of recommendations put forth by a committee headed by the chief secretary aimed at streamlining the process of providing free medical treatment under various government schemes in city hospitals.

Last year in September, the Delhi HC constituted a seven-member panel tasked with streamlining the process of providing free medical treatment under various government schemes in city hospitals.

The committee was also tasked with recommending measures to plug loopholes in the existing system to provide financial assistance to people experiencing poverty.

Committee’s Key Recommendations

Appointment of Nodal Officers: The committee, chaired by the chief secretary, recommended the appointment of nodal officers for all public hospitals in Delhi, including those run by the Delhi government, central government, MCD, and autonomous hospitals such as AIIMS. These officers will oversee the implementation of various schemes and ensure that all requirements for providing financial assistance are met.

Single Window Mechanism: Implementing or enhancing a single window mechanism for the convenience of patients in all hospitals was recommended. This mechanism aims to streamline the provision of financial assistance and treatment for underprivileged patients.

Proactive Treatment of Poor Patients: Hospitals have been advised to be more proactive in treating poor patients and expedite the process for approval, preferably within seven days. Until their treatment under various government schemes is approved, hospitals must continue caring for these patients with the available resources.

Empowering Medical Directors: Medical directors of government hospitals have been authorized to approve applications for emergency treatment. Patients will not be required to obtain quotations for the estimated treatment cost, with the responsibility for genuineness lying with the hospital's management.

Rate Card Preparation: The committee recommended the preparation of a rate card through the Central Procurement Agency for all types of equipment, implants, and medicines. This process should be completed within three months to ensure transparency and uniformity in treatment costs.

Upgradation of Hospital Websites: All government hospitals in Delhi are advised to upgrade their websites to a dynamic platform. This will allow for real-time updates on available medicines, implants, and devices, ensuring transparency and accessibility for patients.

Advocate Ashok Agarwal, representing petitioner Sarvesh, emphasized the importance of implementing the court's recommendations to ensure effective outcomes.

The court's directives aim to address challenges faced by individuals seeking free medical treatment, ensuring equitable access to healthcare services for all sections of society.


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