Amid complaints of private hospitals charging exorbitant rates to COVID-19 patients in the state, the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission on Saturday directed the hospitals to reduce bed cost to pre-COVID charges and offer a 10 per cent discount on medicines.
The commission also asked the hospitals to cap consultation fee to ₹1,000 per visit and a maximum of ₹2,000 for more than one visit.
"We came to know that amid the pandemic, hospitals have increased charges. So, we have advised them to stick to bed charges billed on or before March 1," a member of the commission was quoted as saying by PTI.
Following complaints and a maximum of ₹2,000 for more than one visit and were handing over exorbitant medical bills, the panel held a meeting at New Town Club. After the meeting, the 12-member commission said that a three-member committee would review the need for pathological tests.
"The hospitals should either provide a 10 per cent discount on drugs or allow patient parties to purchase medicines from outside. Most of the medicine shops provide a 20 per cent discount," the senior member added.
Furthermore, the Commission asked the private hospitals to provide a 20 per cent discount on cotton, syringe and bandage to in-house patients, the member added.
In addition to this, the Commission has asked the private hospitals to not deny admission to any patients under any circumstances during the pandemic, even if the patients are unable to deposit an advance payment. The hospitals are also required to display the charges of all forms of treatment at the reception.
"We have requested the Commission for some time to discuss internally and also to share some more clarity," Rupak Barua, Association of Hospitals of Eastern India President, meanwhile, said.
Denying that hospitals increased bed charges after the onset of the pandemic, Barua said that rates are reviewed at the end of every financial year.
"Factoring in inflation, rates are revised, on an average not more than 5-10 per cent. This comes into effect from April 1 every year. The same was done this year too. As for incidents of overbilling of COVID patients are concerned, those should be treated like stray incidents and not standard practice," he said.