One of the reliable indicators of a nation’s progress is the state of health care. Our country lags behind in this respect. The medical expenditure has become prohibitive; the poor people are forced to visit government hospitals for treatment.
In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that the individuals who have a household income of less than Rs 8086 per month are entitled to free medical treatment in private hospitals built on land acquired at concessional rates from the government in Delhi/ NCR. But this is not being followed, and people were still dying due to lack of knowledge and access to private hospitals. Against such a dismal backdrop, an initiative called “Charity Beds” has come as a silver lining.
The Delhi-based organisation “Charity Beds” is helping the city’s poor people get access to beds in private hospitals. The Logical Indian spoke to Mr Kapil Chopra and Mr Lalit Bhatia about this initiative.
What is ‘Charity Beds’? What drove you to start this initiative?
‘Charity-beds’ is a Delhi-based organisation. It is an effort led by a group of young individuals who are disturbed by the discrimination faced by the underprivileged at private hospitals in the city.
This was established five-years-ago by the President of the Oberoi Group Kapil Chopra. He was inspired by his father Mr Ashok Chopra who was a doctor himself. Mr Ashok Chopra wanted to contribute to the medical welfare of the poor. After his demise, Kapil happened to read the judgement in the newspaper where Supreme Court directed the hospitals to reserve 25% of the Out-Patients Departments and 10% of beds for weaker sections of the society. Kapil decided to look into the matter and found out that most of the beds remain unoccupied. He started Charity Beds, an organisation that would be a liaison between poor and the hospitals.
How do people know about this organisation?
It is tough since people are scattered. Our aim was to educate poor people about their rights. So we started distributing pamphlets outside hospitals, on roads, and wherever possible. We organised some awareness campaigns so that people know more and more about it.
How does “Charity Beds” work?
Charity Beds helps patients to get treatment in private hospitals. When someone calls us, we go to the government hospitals and pick the patients from there and assist them to reach the private hospitals. We only help people from economically weaker sections.
How do you identify patients?
We do a strict background check before taking the matter further. We check their BPL (Below Poverty Line) card and sometimes when it is not available, we talk to their employer. Once the background is verified, we help them get admission in hospitals.
How many hospitals are listed with you?
The private hospitals which were mandated by the Supreme Court to provide free medical treatment to the underprivileged are listed with us. There are 46 hospitals as of now. Few of the hospitals have taken the stay order from government and do not follow this law.
Who do people contact first?
We have our number published everywhere. So they call us. We work 24*7 and ensure that no one goes without help.
Are all the treatments free of cost?
If it is verified and proved that your income is less that Rs 8086 per month, all the treatment will be free except the following- Plastic Surgery/Cosmetic surgery, any cancer, or neurosurgery. This is under discussion, and we hope that law comes out soon.
What more is included in free treatment?
People are entitled to get a bed, medication, consultation, surgery facility, nursing facility.
In how many cities it is based in?
Presently, this is being followed in New Delhi. We request people from different states to take this matter to their respective government and implement this order. We soon plan to be in Mumbai where most of the trusts do not support any free healthcare despite using government resources.
How can people help others reach out to you?
People can call us on the numbers published on our website. They can also volunteer a day with us. People may spread the word, tell their friends. It is indeed sad that even today someone dies because they did no have money to get medical care. We need to reach more people. If people would like to contribute to the cause, they may call us. We need posters, flyers, pamphlets all the time. They can also visit our Facebook page.
The Logical Indian appreciates the effort being put by Charity Beds to help economically weaker section of the society to get more access to health care facilities.