Despite Mamata Banerjee’s warning, private hospitals and nursing homes in West Bengal are refusing to admit patients with Swasthya Sathi cards.
At least two incidents have come to the fore on Thursday and Friday where patients with the card were denied treatment by the hospital authorities, leading to a death at Siliguri in North Bengal.
70-year-old Mohammad Gaffar, who was a resident of Matigara in Siliguri, died on Thursday after several hospitals in the city refused to admit him. His family members allege that the nursing homes asked for payment in cash, which they were unable to pay.
It has led to a tense situation in the region with minister and senior TMC leader calling an immediate meeting with the hospital authorities, reported Bengali portal The Wall.
A similar incident has been reported from Kolkata. A nursing home in Baghajotin has been accused of denying treatment to a Swasthya Sathi card holder.
The patient, named Sikha Rani Sen, went to the Red Plus Nursing Homes with abdominal pain. The doctors had ordered an immediate operation for her.
Son Kanu Sen wanted to use her mother’s Swasthya Sathi card to bear the treatment cost. However, the hospital rejected his plea forcing him make a cash payment, claimed Kanu.
Swasthya Sathi is a flagship scheme launched by the TMC government, providing health cover of up to ₹5 lakh per annum to a family for secondary and tertiary care.
The scheme was launched in 2016. But it has made headlines as a part of the state’s ‘Duare Sarkar’ initiative — a mass outreach programme for doorstep delivery of several welfare schemes’ benefits under the West Bengal government.
Earlier this week, Mamata Banerjee had warned private hospitals and nursing homes of license cancellation if they refuse to acknowledge her government’s Swasthya Sathi health card from patients.
“If anyone (private hospitals and nursing homes) refuses to provide healthcare facilities under the ‘Swasthya Sathi’ scheme, the government has the power to cancel its license. This health scheme is for the poor. No one should harass the poor,” the West Bengal Chief Minister said.
“There are many top-notch hospitals which have refused to accept the government’s ‘Swasthya Sathi’ health card on occasions. We want to tell them that they do not have an option. Even small nursing homes in the districts, too, have to accept the cards.
“We are also enlisting smaller nursing homes in the districts under this health scheme so that citizens can avail facilities close to their residence. We would also speak to them, and the state’s chief secretary will meet them so that no person is harassed,” she added.