Mumbai: All private hospitals in Maharashtra run by public charity trusts have been asked to add "charitable" to their names so that poor patients easily know they can avail free or concessional treatment under the reserved quota.
There are 430 charitable hospitals in Maharashtra, including 74 are in Mumbai.
State Charity Commissioner Shivkumar Dige issued a directive to this effect to all such hospitals last week.
"It is difficult for patients to know if the hospital is charitable or not in the absence of the word. Therefore, mentioning the word "charitable" is mandatory so that poor patients can avail free or concessional treatment they rightfully deserve," the directive issued on July 19 says.
It is applicable to all the government-aided private hospitals.
The commissioner's office also asked all these hospitals to inform it about the compliance of the order.
Over the past few years, the charity commissioner's office had received complaints about the charitable hospitals' reluctance to admit poor patients under the quota reserved for them.
As per section 44 A of the Maharashtra Public Trust Act, private charitable hospitals are mandated to reserve 10 per cent of their beds for poor patients and 10 per cent for economically weaker sections of the society.
While those with income below Rs 85,000 per annum are given free treatment at these hospitals, those with income of Rs 1.6 lakh per annum are charged at concessional rates.
"The state, therefore, has 5,000 beds for poor patients and 5,000 for the weaker sections these are clearly mentioned on the commissioner's website. But it has been noticed that most of the time, these beds of these charitable hospital remain vacant," it said.
"Since the word charitable does not appear in the names of these hospitals, poor patients are often clueless whether these are charitable hospitals or not. But if "charitable" or "dharmaday" is added in the name of these hospitals, there will be no doubt in the minds of the patients wanting to get admission in these hospitals," it added.
When asked about the order, an administrator of a prominent hospital in Bandra, said, "We have received this order.
Our only concern is that we will have to make changes in our bank accounts. We will try to make our stand clear before the charity commissioner soon."
However, the move has been welcomed by the organisations working in the field of health-care.
Virendra Mishra, general secretary of NGO Srijan, which holds medical camps in the city for needy people, said, "The move is commendable. It is better late than never. It will empower the poor patients."
"We all know that charitable hospitals get several benefits, including discounted land on long lease and subsidies in utility bills, waivers and exemptions from income tax etc, but most of them hardly pass these benefits to the needy patients."