Several private hospitals in the city have stopped on-spot admission of patients enrolled under the ‘Swasthya Sathi’ scheme, owing to lack of beds and “financial constraints” associated with the welfare programme.
Long waiting periods for receiving payment, low treatment packages and a steep rise in the number of non-Covid patients are among factors making the scheme unviable for private medical facilities, officials said.
Peerless CEO Sudipta Mitra said the hospital has earmarked a fixed percentage of beds for patients under the scheme, but those are almost always occupied. “In case of emergency cases, we don’t deny admission to Swasthya Sathi patients,” he said.
Echoing Mitra, Medica Superspecialty Hospital Chairperson Alok Roy said the facility has at present exhausted its capacity of around 40 beds for such patients, but admission is not turned down if there is an emergency. Rupak Barua, CEO of AMRI Hospitals, said it has already admitted “much more” than the existing policy of 15 per cent beds reserved for the health programme.
“This is the reason other private hospitals in the city have also stopped on-spot admission of patients under the scheme,” he said. Barua, however, pointed out that unless the rates for medical management (from admission to discharge) are revised, it will be difficult for hospitals to accommodate such patients.
“Our regular operational costs have already risen due to the pandemic, and packages offered under the scheme are not financially viable in the long-term. “Also, we would request the authorities to look into the matter of outstanding dues, as the payment realisation duration, which was to be around 15-20 days, has now stretched to 45-60 days,” Barua, who is also the president of the Association of Hospitals of Eastern India, said.
Authorities at R N Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) claimed that it does not deny admission to Swasthya Sathi patients even if all beds earmarked for the scheme are occupied. An official of another leading private hospital in the city said the state government was apprised of the issues and it has assured of reviewing the treatment packages offered under the programme. The scheme was officially launched by the chief minister on 30 December 2016.