Lifestyle & Belief

Charity beds still vacant at Delhi's private hospitals


Indian photographer Bhadresh Gajjar, 31, lies on a hospital bed following treatment at a hospital in Ahmedabad, 14 January 2007.


Sam Panthaky

The dark side of medical tourism hasn't gotten any brighter, new figures from the Times of India suggest.

Delhi's posh private hospitals love to beat the drum for their charitable initiatives, but within their own wards most are still failing to fill the beds devoted to the poor, the newspaper says. Most private hospitals in the city were given government land at cheap rates on the understanding that they would treat charity cases, as well as the city's rich.

On Tuesday, however, the Supreme Court blasted them for failing to live up to their end of the bargain, as statistics revealed that most of the "free beds" are vacant.

In a city where government hospitals are bursting at their seams due to patient overload and the underprivileged cry out for attention, more than 90 per cent beds reserved for them in 38 private hospitals are vacant, TOI said.

Here are the details, straight from the source:

Records show that among the major private hospitals, Escorts Heart Institute had 23 vacant beds in the free-bed category of a total 26. Max Hospital, Saket, had 26 vacant beds out of 30, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital had 22 of 68 free beds vacant and in Dharmshila Cancer Hospital 18 out of 20 free beds were vacant.

At Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Primus Superspecialty Hospital in Chanakyapuri, Pashupati Singhania Research Institute in Sheikh Sarai and Rockland Hospital not a single poor patient had been admitted on their 11 free beds. Moolchand Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre and St Stephen's Hospital have taken stay order.

At Apollo Hospital, which is supposed to reserve 200 free beds for poor, the hospital claimed to have 56 patients as on July 1. A Delhi Government official said the hospital has 49 dedicated free beds and poor patients are adjusted in the paid area as and when required . "They claim not many poor come to us, so there is no need to have more dedicated free beds," the official said.

A hospital spokesperson said, "Unlike other private hospitals we have a special arrangement with the Delhi Government and together we have decided that only those poor patients referred to us by will be admitted. We never return any patient who comes to us," she said.

Spokesperson of the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre claimed they have 50-60 percent occupancy in the free-bed category. "Because ours is a superspeciality hospital, the underprivileged don't come to us." All other major private hospitals claimed they do not deny treatment to poor people who come there.