CIC M.Sridhar Acharyulu imposed maximum penalty of Rs 25, 000 against two officers of Directorate of Health Services, on 21st Jan 2015, Dr. Lily Gangmei the CPIO for not furnishing complete and proper information to the appellant as directed by FAA in a timely manner and on deemed PIO, Dr R.N. Das the in-charge MS for Nursing Homes for not giving information in time.
The Commission, by an order dated 31.12.2014, had directed the Directorate of Health Services to disclose the action taken against private hospitals which breached the condition of serving EWS patients free of cost and recover the ‘unjust enrichment’ made by them.
In the past DDA and Land & Development Office of Government of India had allotted land to the registered societies and trust on concessional rates (predetermined and zonal variant rates) for establishment of hospitals and also stipulated the conditions that they would provide certain percentage of beds in the hospitals free for the poor/indigent category patients. Similarly in the OPD, it was stipulated that free treatment has to be provided to the patients belonging to the indigent category. These hospitals came into functional stages during different times and had the conditions varying from 10% of free beds in the IPD to 70% IPD beds in some of the cases, however in most of the cases it was 25% free IPD beds.
A high power committee under the chairmanship of Justice A.S. Qureshi was also constituted in the year 2000 and recommendations were made by the said committee regarding the conditions that there should be 10% free beds in the IPD and 25% of the patients in the OPD should be provided free treatment. It was also recommended that the conditions should be uniform and applicable to all the allottees with or without conditions. Delhi Government had duly accepted these recommendations.
The Delhi High Court, in a judgement delivered in 2007, pointed out as to how 20 private hospitals & nursing homes are unjustly enriching themselves enjoying conditional concessions given by the state without fulfilling those conditions. The Court had also observed that only poorer categories of patients go to general public hospitals, and they do not go to the private hospitals due to which the earmarked beds in the private hospitals remain unoccupied.
The CPIO and deemed PIO submitted that the number of hospitals making unjust enrichment was increased from 20 to 43. The Commission noted that order of FAA dated 30.1.2014 was supposed to be complied with in 10 days. However, regarding the vital question about process of recovery of unwarranted profit they just gave a lifeless reply, saying, “It is under process”.
The Commission observed the Department of Health Services should serve the health needs of the poor and not the profit-generating private hospitals which are breaching the conditions to serve the poor. It said that the public authority should remember that they are supposed to protect the public money to be collected from these hospitals, as per the High Court order and norms and any delay in recovery is loss of revenue being caused to the people and to that extent it is abdication of that responsibility.
The Commission recommended the public authority to initiate the disciplinary action against the CPIO and Deemed PIO Dr. R N Das.
Further, in view of huge public interest involved in this matter, the Commission considered this as second appeal for compliance of orders of FAA and directed Dr. N.V. Kamath, the Director, Health Services Department, to give reasons as to why the public authority failed to act and why file is being shuttled between the standing counsel, department of law and headquarters. It also demanded a date when it will be in a position to implement the Delhi High Court’s orders.
The Commission also directed the CPIO and Dr R.N. Das, Medical Superintendent Nursing Homes to give certified copies of file notings on implementation of judgment of Delhi High Court, a comprehensive ‘action taken report’ on that order and report explaining time scheme for action to be taken within one month, to the appellant and the Commission.
Read the CIC order here.