Health Minister warns of stringent action against private hospitals overcharging COVID patients

CHANDIGARH, June 13: Taking serious cognizance of the reports of highly exorbitant charges being levied by the private hospitals from the COVID patients in the state, the Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister, Balbir Singh Sidhu today warned of stringent action against all such hospitals, including cancellation of licences, who are trying to exploit the pandemic situation.

The minister said, the Punjab government would soon be fixing the charges for COVID treatment keeping in view the interest of both the patients and the private hospitals. “But at no cost will the government allow exploitation of the patients during this critical situation by the private hospitals”, he added.

This is a catastrophic crisis when everyone is fighting for survival and some unscrupulous private hospitals have tried to resort to open and wanton loot of the helpless patients”, Sidhu said in a strong statement issued here today.

The minister said, his attention had been drawn towards the unprecedentedly high charges imposed by the private hospitals for the treatment of COVID patients. “It is sad and shameful on their part that instead of making positive contribution towards fighting this pandemic, some of these hospitals have resorted to extortion, which will not be allowed at any cost”, he said.

Sidhu warned that the licences of all such hospitals will be cancelled and all their facilities will be withdrawn. Besides, he added, the government reserves the right to withdraw the land provided to these hospitals at highly concessional rates.

The Minister has called a special meeting on Monday to decide the fee structure for treatment of the COVID patients. He said, all factors would be taken into consideration. “We do not want the private hospitals to suffer any financial losses, but we will not allow extortion at any cost and that too during the time of emergency”, he clarified.

The government will fix a particular fee for the treatment of the COVID patients which will be publicized and which the private hospitals will also need to display. “And for sure, the treatment of a COVID patient should not cost several lakhs of rupees”, he made it categorically clear.

He pointed out, most of the COVID patients do not need any special treatment or any special intervention and at best they are to be kept on observation and served food and medicines only. He said, this should not require the hospitals to charges as much money as they are charging right now.

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