CHANDIGARH: An elderly COVID positive woman was charged a whopping Rs 1.20 lakh by a private ambulance for an about 350 km journey from Gurgaon to a hospital in Punjab's Ludhiana, her family has alleged.
The woman's son-in-law said on Friday that after failing to find a bed for her in Gurgaon, they decided to take her to Ludhiana on May 3 where they had found a bed at a hospital.
"My mother-in-law's oxygen saturation level was very low due to COVID. I was searching for a hospital bed in Gurgaon but was unable to find one. Meanwhile, my wife told me that there is a bed available in a hospital in Ludhiana after which we decided to rush her there," the woman's relative told reporters.
The woman's daughter also told reporters in Ludhiana that as ambulances were not readily available, they somehow managed to contact one Delhi-based operator who agreed to take the patient to Ludhiana but demanded Rs 1.40 lakh initially.
However, he agreed to charge Rs 20,000 less after being told that the family had the oxygen stock with them.
An amount of Rs 95,000 was paid to the ambulance operator as advance while the remaining Rs 25,000 was paid immediately upon reaching Ludhiana, the patient's daughter said.
She said even when she pleaded that the amount being charged was quite high, it did not have much affect on the ambulance operator.
She said the ambulance operator's driver even issued her a receipt for Rs 1.20 lakh.
Later, someone from her family put this receipt over social media after which it was widely shared and matter reached the Delhi Police and a case was lodged.
Several patients who are unable to find beds in the Delhi-NCR region are rushing to hospitals in various cities of Punjab and Haryana.
There have been reports that many private ambulances were allegedly fleecing patients.
A day earlier, the Haryana Police had said it will provide 440 vehicles, 20 each to the state's 22 districts, to be used as ambulances for the needy COVID-19 patients.
The COVID-19 Hospital Transport Service (COV-HOTS) is being provided free of charge as instances of shortage of ambulances and over-charging have been noticed, the Haryana Police had said in a statement on Thursday.
These vehicles are being given to the districts on a temporary basis to transport needy patients from their homes to hospitals and also drop them back once they have recover, it said.