Vigilant Health dept stops multiple packaging by pvt hosps

Vigilant Health dept stops multiple packaging by pvt hosps

Kolkata: The Health department has cracked the whip on multiple packaging under the Swasthya Sathi scheme, which has been rampantly done by private hospitals against patients, thereby clubbing several packages together, eventually leading to an exorbitant bill amount.

Most of the multiple packaging cases were spotted where patients required treatment under the medicine department. A senior official of the Health department said that there had been a rampant practise of treating a patient under multiple packages and also classifying them under an 'unspecified' category so that more money could be taken from the government. When the patients do not exactly fall under the packages specified by the government, the private hospitals are given the liberty to treat patients under 'unspecified' category the cost of which will eventually be disbursed by the government. Taking a cue from such incidents, the state Health department, in its recent order, restricted the use of 'unspecified' packages and it can only be available in emergency, accidental and surgical cases. There are currently more than 1,900 packages operational under Swasthya Sathi.

"Many private hospitals have misused packages. The government has spotted such cases. There are many packages like gallbladder treatment, appendix, fracture and repair. To raise the bill, many private hospitals had treated a patient under more than one package when he/she did not require it at all. The government had to stop some packages due to sheer misuse. It is very difficult to examine every step of documentation and ascertain whether a particular package was applied for a particular patient," the official added.

Incidentally, the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission (WBCERC) has taken 'zero tolerance' policy against the refusal of Swasthya Sathi cards. Due to relentless campaigning both by the WBCERC, the regulating body and the Health department, the number of Swasthya Sathi refusal complaints dropped to three in October while in September around 10 such complaints were registered with the WBCERC.

To ensure that there is not a single case of Swasthya Sathi refusal, the WBCERC has already published four WhatsApp numbers where patients can register their complaints round the clock. The numbers are 9073313211/9513108383/8334902900/9830164286. A toll-free number has also been made operational where patients can register their grievances.

The number is 1800345-5384 and it has been printed on Swasthya Sathi cards. A mobile app has also been developed.

"WhatsApp numbers will remain operational on Saturdays and Sundays as well. There will be a dedicated team of the Health department to address grievances 24x7. Patients and their family members can raise a complaint from the hospitals the moment they refuse to accept Swasthya Sathi cards. The number of complaints has drastically dropped in October," WBCERC Chairperson Justice (retired) Ashim Kumar Banerjee said.

According to the Swasthya Sathi website, over two crore families have been covered under the health scheme in Bengal and over 2,290 private hospitals have been empanelled. A private hospitals' organisation has been seeking a rationalisation of packages fixed by the government and segregation of charges for medical management of patients. The private hospitals also sought a split between doctors' fees, investigation and bed charges. But the government has so far refused to entertain their demands and the private hospitals have to treat patients under the packages specified by the government.

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