LAHORE: In a disturbing development for poor patients, the Punjab government has ended free diagnosis for them in indoor departments of all the state-run health facilities of the province, besides imposing a heavy fee on some 50 services and diagnostic facilities earlier being offered free of cost.
Similarly, the government has also revised the existing rates of many services and test facilities, introducing a hefty fee increase, putting the poor patients in immense trouble.
An official privy to the information told Dawn that Health Minister Prof Dr Yasmin Rashid presided over some exclusive meetings held to review the charges for the services and test facilities being offered to the poor and recommended the new fee regime to the Punjab government to get it approved from the provincial cabinet.
He said the new charges would be applicable at all government hospitals under the primary and secondary healthcare department. Presently, the P&SHD has administrative control of 34 district headquarters hospitals (DHQs), 88 tehsil headquarters hospitals (THQs), 293 rural health centres (RHCs) and 2,461 basic health units (BHUs) all over the province mostly visited by the poor patients.
The Punjab cabinet accordingly approved the new rates and a notification was issued in this regard on Saturday. The former provincial government of the PML-N had declared the treatment facilities free of cost at the indoor departments, emergency wards and diagnostic units of these hospitals, the official said.
He said the present Punjab government by suspending these facilities has put massive financial burden on the poor patients visiting the state-run hospitals.
The notification reads, “Consequent upon the approval of provincial cabinet of Punjab in terms of Rule (28 (15) and 30 of the Punjab Government Rules of Business 2011, in suspension of all the previous orders, the rates for various services and tests performed in health facilities under administrative control of the P&SHCD have been notified”.
It has also imposed for the first time Rs50 dental OPD ticket on each patient. The Punjab government, however, announced that all diagnostic tests will be free of cost for the patients visiting emergency units of these hospitals.
The poor patients in need of free test facilities for indoor services will have to give undertaking that they were entitled to the Zakat Fund, a very complicated, time consuming and hectic procedure.
A patient has to visit many offices to get signatures of relevant officials which normally takes a couple of days.
Similarly, the notification declared that 70 percent of the diagnostic test fee charged from patients would be retained by the Punjab government.
According to the notification, the Punjab government imposed fee charges on largely-performed tests, including Rs2,500 for CT Scan, Rs100 for ECG, Rs150 for ultrasound and Rs60 for X-Rays. The Punjab government also imposed Rs200 fee on the CBC test, besides many others, which were routinely performed on most of the patients.
Other charges included Rs60 for ESR, Rs65 each for blood sugar, Urea, Creatinine and Uric Acid tests.
Similarly, for another important test — Liver Functioning Tests (LFTs) — that is performed on most of the admitted patients, the government imposed Rs300 fee.
It has also introduced Rs60 for urine routine examination, Rs65 for urinary pregnancy test, Rs400 for Coagulation Profile, Rs110 for RA Factor, Rs75 for anti HCV Screening, Rs220 for Fluid Routine Examination, Rs300 for HbsAg, Rs350 for HbAIC, Rs600 for Trop T, Rs250 for Lipid Profile, Rs900 for Thyroid Profile, Rs300 for PAP Smear, Rs700 for ABGs, Rs325 for Cardiac Enzymes, Rs110 for Serum Billirubin, Rs600 for H Pylori, Rs400 for Myco dot, etc.
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019