Sunday, June 23, 2024

From the Archives, fifty years ago, April 12, 1973 | Cheating by patients hits Delhi hospital revenue

New Delhi, April 11: Government hospitals in New Delhi are losing millions of rupees each year because of what is described by hospital authorities as large-scale cheating by patients who come for treatment. The authorities point out that hospital services are free only to those whose monthly income is less than Rs. 200. But, in practice, 99 per cent of the rich and well-to-do patients manage to get drugs and other things free by declaring an income less than Rs. 200. “We do not know how to stop this cheating and make people pay,” said one hospital administrator. “If you could, our hospitals would look much better and the quality of service would improve.” While every Government hospital in the capital is robbed of its revenue by cheaters, the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital seems to be the biggest loser. “It has become India’s free nursing home for the rich,” said one doctor. “Excellent facilities, good staff and always full. But no one pays.” The cheaters include big businessmen, high-paid Government servants, top-ranking officials in the ministries, their friends and relatives, according to one hospital official who did not wish to be identified. Last year, the AIIMS hospital treated a total of about 427,300 patients, half of them estimated to be genuinely poor. Although the remaining patients belonged to the “paying” category, according to the Hospital Superintendent, “only five per cent of them declared their true income.”

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