Maha: Campaign against pvt hospitals that overcharged during pandemic

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Mumbai, Feb 5 (PTI) A group of activists and NGOs working in the field of health care on Friday said a 15-day long sensitisation campaign would be launched across Maharashtra against the private hospitals that overcharged COVID-19 patients and thereby flouted the government orders.

The campaign named 'Jan Aarogya Abhiyan' would begin from next week, they said.

'The idea is to mount a pressure on the state authorities over the gross violation of government orders and regulations while treating COVID-19 patients in the last one year,' public health specialist Dr Abhay Shukla said.

'Our campaign will start from next week and will go on for 15 days. It will also have a social media campaign, wherein we will tag the social media handles of state health minister as well as other stake holders in this field,' he said.

As part of the campaign, a database of people, who suffered due to the overcharging private hospitals during the pandemic, is being compiled.

'We held a video conference with some people who lost their relatives due to COVID-19 and who complained of being overcharged by the local private hospitals,' he said.

Shukla said that during the campaign, such cases would be highlighted to sensitise people about their health care rights.

'We want to mount pressure on the state to take some strict action against those indulging in such malpractices,' he added.

Girish Bhave, another activist of the campaign said, 'We need to have a state-specific Clinical Establishment Act, which would control the rates in private hospitals...It is imperative to have such a regulatory act as we heard several cases today itself, wherein some patients were charged exorbitantly and the dead body of the relative was not handed over over non-payment of the bill.' 'In one of the incidents, a person was forced to pay Rs 16,000 for the transportation of his relative's body from the hospital for crematorium, which was just two kms away.

Unfortunately, there has been no action against such malpractices,' he said.

Co-convenor of the Abhiyan Shakuntala Bhalerao said seven key measures must now be included in legal regulation of private hospitals: display of rates, standardisation of rates with capping to prevent overcharging, implementation of the National Human Rights Commission's (NHRC) charter of patients' rights, ensuring standard treatment protocols, patient- friendly grievance redressal mechanism, multi-stakeholder bodies at district and state levels to oversee regulation, and adequately staffed regulatory infrastructure. PTI ND NP NP