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Delhi government fines hospitals Rs 700 crore for denying free treatment to poor
Five prominent private hospitals in Delhi have been fined Rs 700 crore by the Delhi government. The fine was imposed on the hospitals for not treating poor patients. According to the law, in Delhi, the hospitals that have received subsidised land from the government are required to ensure that 10 per cent of the patients admitted in hospitals must be poor and are treated for free.

This was an attempt by the government to provide better health care facilities to people belonging to the economically weaker sections of the society.

The hospitals on which the fine has been imposed are Fortis Escorts Heart Institute in Okhla, Max Superspeciality Hospital in Saket, Pushpawati Singhania Research Institute in south Delhi, Dharmashila Hospital and Research Centre and Shanti Mukund Hospital in east Delhi.

In addition to the 10 per cent rule, 25 per cent of all out- patient services must cater to poor people for free and government hospitals can also refer their cases to these institutes.

The government's order said the five hospitals had received subsidised land from the government but were still flouting the rules. The government seems to have relied on a March 2007 Delhi High Court ruling that had ordered that private hospitals should be fined for earning profits from beds reserved for poor patients.

"The money recovered would be used to set up a corpus fund to be used for Delhi's health sector," said Dr Hem Parkash, additional director, in-charge of beds for people from the EWS.

"The hospitals were served notices last December and given a hearing. The Thursday order is final and binding," said Parkash. Hospitals have been given a month to deposit the fine.

A total of 43 private hospitals in Delhi were allotted land at concessional rates. But this was on the condition that they will keep 10 per cent of their in-patient department capacity and 25 per cent of out-patient department capacity to treat EWS patients free of cost.

The hospitals have denied flouting any rules. The spokesperson for Max Super Speciality Hospital told PTI, "We believe the order is unfair to us; we stand fully committed to discharging all our obligations towards economically weaker sections (EWS). While we study the order in detail, we will prefer an appeal against this order in the appropriate forum."

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