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Private hospitals up in arms against Kerala government

Kerala Private Hospitals  Association urges state to foot the bill instead of slashing rates of medical items and treatment.

Published: 17th May 2021 03:05 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2021 03:05 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the state government tightening its control over the private healthcare  institutions in the state by regularising Covid-19 treatment cost and  capping the prices of medical items including PPE kits, masks etc, many  small and medium hospitals have expressed  helplessness in continuing their involvement in the fight against the pandemic. This is happening at a time when Covid-19 cases are surging. 

According to Kerala Private Hospitals  Association (KPHA), the government decision would derail the Covid-19 treatment being provided by the private hospitals and leave  scores of patients at the receiving end. There are around 1,500  medium and major private healthcare institutions in the state that are involved in Covid treatment. As per directions, the private hospitals  have set aside 50% of their beds for Covid treatment. 

“The PPE kits used by private hospitals are of 90 GSM standards and we  cannot put our staff at risk by using low-quality PPEs as the government  wants now. Many of the private institutions in the state have been  actively involved in their fight against the pandemic. The government  had allowed hospitals to charge at the KASP (Karunya Arogya Suraksha  Padhathi) rate of Rs 1,000 for a PPE kit. Now, it has capped the rate at Rs 273. We  approached some of the manufacturers and they cannot afford to provide  good-quality protective gear at this rate. We  want the government to make available quality protective gear at the  rate fixed by it. We are ready to procure the kits from the government,” said  Dr E K Ramachandran, state treasurer of KPHA.

He said the  government took such a decision without proper thinking, that too at a  time when the state is going through the Covid peak. “Many private hospitals  have hired more staff to manage the patient load as bystanders are not  allowed with Covid patients. These employees are being paid an additional  allowance for Covid duty. No government with progressive thinking would  adopt such a policy. This is being implemented without proper study,”  said Ramachandran. 

He said instead of putting the private  hospitals in such a bad situation, the government should cover the treatment  cost of the patients being treated at private hospitals. “Other  states like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are giving Covid-19 treatment for  free and the Kerala government should also do the same,” added Ramachandran. 

A  doctor and owner of a small private Covid hospital in  Thiruvananthapuram told TNIE that they are unable to run the hospital.  “I converted my hospital into a Covid exclusive hospital after the state government fixed the treatment costs. Being a doctor, I just wanted to do my bit after watching people run from pillar to post searching for oxygen beds. Mine is a 20-bed hospital and we cannot compromise on patient care or put our staff at  risk. I have no other way but to shut down the hospital,” said the doctor.

“I buy PPE kits for Rs 995 per unit. I don’t know from where I could procure the medical items at  the rates fixed by the government. We are working day and night without  rest to give care to the patients and the government is portraying private hospitals as  institutions  that exploit the patients,” added the doctor.

‘State sabotaging quality of medical care’

According to KPHA, the government is sabotaging the quality of medical care being  provided by private hospitals by fixing the rate of medical items
Pvt hospitals will not compromise on the quality of the protective gear given to their staff



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