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Put Up Information About Hospitals, Medicines on Website, HC Tells Govt

04 January 2012
By Utkarsh Anand
New Delhi India

In order to make the patients and their kin aware of the procedure for providing free treatment to poor patients, the Delhi High Court has ordered the Delhi government to ensure that all its hospitals are properly linked to its website — so the information is widely publicised.

The court has also directed the government to upload information regarding the inventory of stocks and consumables available with its respective hospitals on a real–time basis. The information, to be put up on the website, should also indicate what will be the procedure for purchasing consumables during emergencies, and what kinds of services will be provided to poor patients in emergencies at hospitals under the Delhi government.

Directing the Department of Health and Family Welfare to collect the required information and upload it on the government’s website with appropriate links, Justice Vipin Sanghi asked the authorities to take immediate steps and subsequently file a compliance report in the court.

“The government is directed to ensure that all the hospitals of the Delhi government are provided with operable links on the website, and the information with regard to the inventory of stocks and consumables is displayed,” the court said.

Justice Sanghi further clarified that this directive was being passed in view of the provisions of the Right To Information Act, which obligated all the public authorities to tabulate and provide adequate information on their websites.

During the hearing, the court was informed by the petitioner’s counsel, Girija Krishan Varma, that although there were 38 government–run hospital in Delhi, links had been provided only for 27 such institutions. She further told the court that some of the links did not open, and the ones that did not have enough information. “The hospitals do not provide information with regard to stocks and consumables available with them, nor did they specify the procedure for purchasing consumables in emergency cases,” Verma told the court.

At this, the court asked the government to make sure that its website carries all information, so as to make it public in accordance with the RTI Act.

The petition in the matter was filed by one Mudussir Ali, who claimed that the doctors at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital had demanded Rs 28,000 for operating upon his mother. Stating that they asked him to go to chemists for the consumables, he said as there was no information on the public domain about the availability of medicines, hospital staff were indulging in corrupt practices.

Stating that the hospital was obligated to provide free medicines to him because he was poor, Ali had also filed a RTI application and sought to inspect the stock register for procuring information regarding the stock position of the medicines available.

The CIC had said that asking a patient to buy medicines from the open market, when he was entitled to receive it from the hospital, amounted to denial of his right. “As the standard reason provided by hospitals for asking patients to buy their own medicine is non–availability, it is important that be complete transparency regarding the stock of medicines held by the hospital at any given point of time. The stock register of an institution should be conspicuously displayed,” it had said in an order on November 28.

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