KATHMANDU, Oct 16: Days of private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics charging their patients exorbitantly could be numbered. The government has decided to rein in on such practices following complaints by patients that private hospitals are charging them exorbitantly.
The new work plan introduced by the government on financial sector reform and good governance Tuesday made it mandatory for all private hospitals to display ´patient charter´ within two months. The hospitals have to mention fee and services in the charter clearly.
Patients have been complaining that private hospitals are taking benefits of the patients´ compulsion. The ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) said it was mulling to fix maximum fee that the private hospitals could charge the patients.
"We have discussed to fix the maximum ceiling of the private hospitals but due to variation of quality in their services and facilities we cannot decide on it right now," said Rajendra Mahatto, Minister for Health and Population. He said the new policy would be implemented immediately and the ministry will issue circular before Dashain holidays.
The ministry believes that after the new rule comes into effect, patients would be aware of the fees of the hospital prior to treatment, and can decide whether they can afford private service or not.
"We hope the patients will not feel cheated by private hospitals by then," Mahatto added. He warned that licenses of the private hospitals will be suspended if they do not comply with the government policy within the dateline.
Moreover, the new policy has barred the government hospitals to give the pharmacies on rent. At present no government hospitals are operating their own pharmacies. They are charging huge rent from the private operators. Bir Hospital, where poor patients from across the country go for treatment, is charging Rs 1 million for a pharmacy per month in rent.
Monthly rents of the pharmacies of regional hospitals are also more than Rs 1 million. Hospitals authorities conceded that the burden of hefty rents of the pharmacies ultimately goes to the poor patients.
If the new policy comes into effect the hospitals will have to operate pharmacies by themselves and sells medicine at minimal costs. The policy clearly mentions that the hospitals have to buy the medicines directly from the companies and sell it by taking minimal profits. Pharmaceuticals companies are providing huge bonus and profits to the dispensaries.
The new policy clearly states that the medicine that are imported must have enough time on expiry date and should be recalled three months ahead of their expiry date. The medical colleges have to provide specialist services at least 30 days in four district hospitals in a year, the policy mentioned.