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Times of India
By Umesh Isalkar
Pune, India

The charity commissioner has filed a criminal case against Sahyadri Hospital for not making sufficient arrangements for poor patients, despite having charitable trust status and availing of government concessions. After Ruby Hall Clinic, Sahyadri Hospital is the second hospital in the city against which the charity commissioner has filed a criminal case for violating norms under section 41 AA of the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950, which aims at providing free and concessional health services to poor patients through charitable hospitals.

"We have filed a criminal case against it for not adopting sufficient measures to treat poor patients," U N Dikkatwar, joint charity commissioner, told TOI on Wednesday. "All our previous efforts, like giving repeated warnings through notices to comply with the norms, have fallen flat."

The public benefit scheme is framed by the Bombay High Court and its implementation started in September 2006. Under the scheme, all charitable hospitals have to "earmark and reserve 10 per cent of its beds for indigent patients and 10 per cent of its beds for the economically weaker section".

In respect of indigent patients, all the treatment is to be made free of cost by charitable hospitals. The scheme says that two per cent of total revenue of charitable hospitals should be spent towards free treatment and medications of poor patients whose annual income is not more than Rs 25,000 under the Indigent Patient Fund (IPF)

When contacted, Sadanand Bapat, director (finance) of Sahyadri Hospital, said that the hospital’s IPF has been very much in place. "The only issue is that two per cent of the revenue generated from our out-patient-department was not included in the hospital’s IPF," he said.

"Charitable hospitals get FSI, concessions in water, power, custom, octroi duties and sales and income taxes. Despite all this, they do not reserve beds for poor patients," health activist Dattatray Zende told TOI.

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