Healthcare mecca falls short, private hospitals fill gap
Increasingly, more and more people are choosing the second option. However, 2017 saw multiple instances of top private hospitals being accused of fleecing patients.
It takes over a year to get an MRI done at AIIMS. Surgery for heart ailment, cancer or brain tumour takes equally long if it’s a non-emergency case. Still, nearly 10,000 patients from across the country flock to the premium public hospital daily to get treated. Few succeed. Those who fail, have to choose between going back to a regional hospital, which may not be as good, or opting for a private facility that may be good enough, but charges a bomb.
Increasingly, more and more people are choosing the second option. However, 2017 saw multiple instances of top private hospitals being accused of fleecing patients. One such case involved Fortis Gurgaon, which billed the family of a seven-year-old dengue patient Rs 16 lakh for a fortnight’s treatment involving critical care. The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority later found that prices of some consumables were marked up by over 1,700%.
Similarly, Max Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, came under the scanner for allegedly wrongly declaring a newborn dead though the hospital said it had followed all protocols. Apollo Hospital, too, came under scrutiny for alleged involvement of some of its staff in a kidney racket.
While all this has set off a debate on alleged malpractices in private hospitals, experts said private hospitals had become the mainstay of healthcare primarily because public facilities were in such a poor state. “It is not just AIIMS. Hospitals like Safdarjung, Ram Manohar Lohia and GB Pant also have long waiting time,” said a doctor.
As a quick-fix solution, Delhi government recently announced a scheme wherein state hospitals can refer patients to select private facilities if they have a long wait for a surgery and the state will bear the expenses reflecting the growing dependence on private healthcare despite cynicism about their functioning. Delhi has about 40 public hospitals and TOI recently highlighted how only a handful of them have CT scan or MRI facilities.
The Delhi government come up with another scheme in 2017 that allowed patients referred by government doctors to get tests done for free at private centres. However, doctors point out that in case of an emergency, transporting the patient to a facility outside could waste precious time. Shortage of manpower is also endemic in public hospitals. Corruption and apathy make matters worse. In contrast, private hospitals maintain a good doctor-patient ratio and a certain quality of treatment.(TNN)