Govt forms committee to finalize rate structure in district hospitals
After waking up from slumber, the Health and Medical Education (HME) Department has asked all hospitals administrators in J&K to follow the previous order whereby the state is to conduct 18 diagnostic services free of cost.
According to health officials, it was stated in a meeting regarding uniformity of rate structure few days ago which was held to overcome exuberant rates charged in government hospitals.
Minutes of the meeting with Rising Kashmir read that Directorate of Health Service Kashmir (DHSK) and Directorate of Health Service Jammu (DHSJ) have been asked to provide details of 18 diagnostic tests.
“Both the directorates have been asked to detail the department about the procedures conducted past three years and based on past three years expenditure details thereof shall come up with a requisition for funds so that timely funding is arranged in favour of concerned quarters from National Health Mission (NHM),” the officials said.
DHSJ has been asked to ensure furnishing of required inputs on the analogy of DHSK to arrive at an acceptable rate structure for hospitals investigations.
According to a government order, issued by the health department in October last year, it is to provide basic eighteen investigations free of cost.
The free tests include haemoglobin, urine for the pregnancy test, blood sugar, M.P test, sputum test, urine RE, stool RE, TLC, DLC, ESR, BT/CT, blood grouping, semen analysis, STS test, HIV test, HBsAg for pregnant women and dengue test.
However, contrary to the government order, district and sub-district hospitals in the valley charge Rs 35 for a blood sugar test. The same test at SKIMS and SMHS is done for Rs 10 and free at district hospital Udampur.
There are complaints that many other diagnostic procedures mentioned in the order are also charged at many health facilities and the revenue generated goes into the pockets of concerned hospital heads.
There is also a huge disparity in diagnostic procedure rates between peripheral and tertiary care hospitals which is happening due to the lackadaisical approach of health authorities.
According to official rate lists, the patients at district hospital Pulwama and Baramulla are being charged Rs 120 for Complete Blood Count (CBC), while the same test is done for Rs 35 at SKIMS, Soura and SMHS.
Similarly, a serum amylase test is done for Rs 150 in district hospitals, while the patients are charged Rs 15 at the tertiary care hospitals.
For digital x-ray, patients are charged Rs 150-200 in district hospitals, while as the same is done for Rs 120 and 70 at SKIMS and SMHS respectively.
Same is the case with USG (without film); in district hospitals, patients are charged Rs 150 while as it is done for Rs 100 in peripheral hospitals in J&K.
Director Finance, Health and Medical Education Department, Mohammad Rafiq said they have formed a sub-committee to look into the issue of exuberant rates in the hospitals.
“We have asked DHSK to associate one well-versed doctor, a pharmacist and a lab technician with us to help carry out analysis of the individual investigations with reference to AIIMS rates in order to ensure the sustainability of the rate structure,” he said.
Few weeks ago HME issued a notice asking hospital heads across the state to follow diagnostic rates of SMHS hospital Srinagar until they come up with a final rate list, but that is being grossly violated.
“The committee will come up with recommendations. We are on it and we will finalize the rate list very soon to carry out the necessary procedures,” Rafiq said.
The lack of a rate list for the diagnostic procedures with the department has given free hand to hospital heads especially at peripheries who have individually framed rate list without prior approval from higher-ups.
The varying rates and the huge disparity have left patients aghast. Interestingly, some private diagnostic labs charge less than the rates at peripheral hospitals.