EDITORIAL: Erring hospitals

The private hospitals should be prevented from overcharging and the offenders should not be spared

It is open knowledge that most private hospitals are charging more than they should be doing thereby fleecing hapless patients who are compelled to pay them. After many complaints the inspection done by the Department of Supply Management and Protection of Consumers’ Interest Wednesday asked the Gwarko-based B&B Hospital and Dhapasi-based Grande International Hospital to provide explanations for overcharging the patients. If these hospitals do not provide valid clarifications within three days then the monitoring team would be taking legal action against them. Among other things, the hospitals were found to be charging 10 per cent more for beds and 13 per cent of VAT which are illegal. These hospitals are allowed to charge the patients only five per cent as service fees. To this effect the Supreme Court has issued a show cause notice to the government regarding the VAT and health services fee charged by the private hospitals.

These anomalies should be taken into consideration seriously as the Constitution of Nepal guarantees the right of every individual the right to free access to basic health services. The Bansbari based National Institute of Neurological and Allied Sciences and Balkhu-based Vayodha hospital too are involved in this form of racket by charging heavy fees. The hospitals are not only charging service charge but health service tax as well. In case of both the hospitals they are charging not only the health service tax but charging an extra 10 per cent service charge. On the other hand, apart from the 13 per cent VAT, 10 per cent is charged for nursing services by many hospitals. The charges vary among the various hospitals. The charges include bed charge, doctors’ charge and also the nursing services charge. According to the law the hospitals can charge only five percent as health services.

Moreover, to make health services available to all the hospitals are required to provide 10 per cent of beds for patients without charging them anything. But this is not the case and such free health care services are being denied despite the provision that the patients who cannot afford the expensive treatment costs be provided free treatment facilities which is their right. Since the health sector is a very sensitive matter as it involves the lives of people and their overall well being the present discrepancies seen in the health sector should be dealt with firmly. The private hospitals should be prevented from overcharging and the offenders should not be spared. This calls for strict monitoring of all activities of the private hospitals. Action should be taken against the erring sooner or later. The hospitals should be prevented from making the most of the present loopholes. It has to be seen that they strictly abide by the provisions of the law. Hospitals should not be taken merely as lucrative businesses as is happening now. Those who operate hospitals should serve selflessly and seeing many reputed private hospitals are also involved in malpractices is indeed very disappointing. It leads to all important question as to whether they are capable of providing the health services expected from them.

Govt’s negligence

The government has not deputed civil servants in all provincial assemblies though results of the parliamentary and provincial elections have been already out. The constitutional provision has it that all seven provincial assemblies are required to meet within 20 days of the final announcement of their results. As many as 50 civil servants should have been deputed to each of the provinces three months ago so that they could prepare ground for holding their first meeting and provide logistics supports to the provincial assembly members, chief ministers and Pradesh chiefs. The government has also not fixed the places for the provincial assemblies.

The required numbers of staffers should be deputed either on a permanent basis or on a contract basis. They also need extensive training to run the provincial assembly secretariats. It will be difficult to run the provincial assembly in the absence of a secretariat where enough number of trained staffers is necessary. The government should have known that provincial assemblies would need civil servants immediately after the election was over. It is the total negligence of the government to not make any preparations in advance. The only option right now is to hire retired personnel from the parliament secretariat to provide supports to the provincial assemblies.