Maximum complaints from patients in Mumbai, many had travelled to the city for surgery carrying cash.
A total of 479 patients from across Maharashtra have filed complaints of refusal of treatment against hospitals in the state after the Centre’s demonetisation move on November 8. Maximum complaints came from patients in Mumbai, several of whom had travelled to the city for surgery carrying cash. Over 73 complaints against private and public hospitals were made in cases where cash in older currency or payment through cheques was not accepted. Pune followed with 70 such complaints and Aurangabad received 38 complaints.
Days after demonetisation, the state had announced that both public and private hospitals would have to accept older currency for some days, till the issue of cash crunch was resolved. A helpline, 108, was started by the health department for patients to register complaints id denied treatment due to this reason.
According to data from the state, most complaints (63) came in on November14, a day after the government asked people to register them. Of 479 complaints, in about 45 cases, the complaint had to be escalated to the level of Directorate of Health Services or ministry of health.
“In situations where the hospital refused to treat the patient even after the call centre’s request, the complaint was escalated,” a spokesperson for the helpline said. In 454 cases, a call from the call centre helped resolve the complaint.
According to officials attached with the helpline, the maximum calls were against private hospitals, many of which demanded that patients only make card payments or pay cash in new currency. The least number of complaints came from Bhandara, Gondia, and Jalgaon.
According to private hospitals, the government has now directed them to encourage cashless transactions. Government and private hospitals have stopped accepting older currency. Attempts to encourage card payments have been initiated at least in private hospitals. Several small-scale government hospitals in rural areas, however, are yet to install swipe machines.