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'Need To Give Financial Autonomy To Govt Hospitals': Bombay High Court On Non- Availability of Essential Medicines & Equipment

Sharmeen Hakim
21 Dec 2022 3:30 AM GMT
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The Bombay High Court at Nagpur has urged the Maharashtra Government to decentralize purchase of medicines and medical equipment by Government Hospitals giving them reasonable financial autonomy to serve the interest of patients.

The court observed that the policy wherein all Government Hospitals are required to place orders to the Haffkine Institute must've been done with laudable intentions, the situation is different today.

"There are grievances of the patients, who happen to take treatment at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Nagpur and some Doctors, who are treating them, about non availability of several essential medicines and medical equipment," the division bench of Justices SB Shukre and MW Chandwani observed.

The bench elaborated that in the Health service sector there may be several emergencies where there is no scope for delay, "if the treating Doctors are required to face shortage of medicines or medical equipments or both, one can imagine the fate of patients in need of emergency treatment."

While the financial autonomy of government hospitals was increased from Rs. 3 lakh to Rs 10 lakh only last year, the court observed that such a marginal increase in financial independence is not going to serve the health sector in any manner.

"…we would urge the Authorities in power to have a relook at the whole issue so that the interest of patients can be served in a better way. After all having a healthy society is one of the essential dimensions of the concept of "Welfare State" under Article 39-A of the Constitution of India relating to Directive Principles of the State Policy," the bench said.

It noted that several Departments of the Government enjoy reasonable financial autonomy and are allowed to utilise their financial powers fully by purchasing the essentials that they require for their official needs but the same kind of financial autonomy is not reserved for the Government Hospitals and the Government Hospitals are compelled to make purchases of their medicines and medical equipments through Haffkine Institute.

After directing the state to relook its policy, the court directed both the Deans of Government Medical Colleges at Nagpur to furnish data for the period of last five years about the dates of the requisitions sent by them calling for supply of medicines/medical equipments every month and the dates on which those monthly requisitions were fulfilled by the Haffkine Institute.

Case Title: C.H. Sharma and others vs. State of Maharashtra and others

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