PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has planned to carry out an assessment for selection of more hospitals for free treatment of people on Sehat Card Plus as number of patients is likely to increase after Eidul Fitr.

“Presently there are a total of 753 hospitals across the country where residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can avail free healthcare services. Of these, 118 are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 635 are in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan,” officials told this scribe.

They said that the programme, which was resumed in March with the formation of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, was yet to start receiving more patients because of Ramazan. They said that the number of patients could shoot up after Eid Fitr.

Officials said that currently 1,500 patients visited hospitals to avail cashless treatment services per day but their number could rise to 3,000 after Eid.

Number of patients likely to increase after Eidul Fitr

Therefore, a meeting of the Policy Board of SCP will take place within a few days to discus empanelment of more hospitals for the programme.

They said that they would also seek approval from the board to conduct assessment of the present hospitals and see if those facilities were providing quality services to people. Hopefully, the board would accord approval and they would be able to start assessment of hospitals next month, they added.

“During the assessment, the hospitals where healthcare quality is not up to the mark will be deleted from the list while new hospitals fulfilling the criteria will be selected,” said officials.

They said that election of new hospitals and cancellation of the ones not meeting the criteria was a routine practice to ensure that the patients got quality healthcare and public money did not go down the drain.

They added that since the inception of SCP, they had been registering hospitals and many of them were removed from the list on the basis of poor performance.

“More hospitals will be needed to cater to patients’ load at district level. Priority will be given to public hospitals. However, there will be no ban on private hospitals if they meet the laid down standards by the government,” said officials.

They said that people with computerised national identity cards of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa living in other provinces could avail free healthcare services there.

They said that State Life Insurance Corporation, the executor of the programme, had also empanelled hospitals in other provinces where the residents of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could avail free treatment.

Officials said that the people requiring tertiary care services were visiting Peshawar-based hospitals while most of the patients contacted hospitals in their native districts for secondary care.

“Selection of good hospitals at district level will benefit patients as they seek services there without much travelling and spending money,” they added.

They said that health department would select private hospitals at district level only when good public hospitals were not available in an area.

“We have already restricted many common diseases to public sector hospitals with a view to put brakes on malpractices and encourage state-owned health facilities to generate income from the programme. This policy has been going very well so far,” they added.

Officials said that in the past, they de-listed private hospitals for abusing the services and the policy regarding the empanelment of new outlets had been made stricter now.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2024

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