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Lucknow: Free Treatment Facilities at Ram Manohar Lohia Closed, People Upset With Decision

Patients visiting the hospital block of the RMLIMS for treatment will have to pay Rs 100 as the OPD registration fee from Friday onwards. Besides, tests and procedures which were free for patients coming here will now be charged.
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Representational use only.Image Courtesy: National Herald

Lucknow: Healthcare is going to come at a much higher price at the Ram Manohar Lohia Institute of Medical Sciences (RMLIMS), Lucknow, with the Yogi Adityanath-led government doubling the charges right from registration charges to various diagnostic tests and procedures from July 9 onwards.

Patients visiting the hospital block of the RMLIMS for treatment will have to pay Rs 100 as the OPD registration fee, from Friday onwards. Besides, tests and procedures which were free for patients coming here will now be charged.

The decision has been taken in compliance with the government order (GO) received by the institute on April 25. Presently, the OPD ticket of Re 1 remains valid for 15 days which will now be done for Rs 100, but it will remain valid for six months.

All blood tests, X-ray and ultrasound, which were free of cost at the hospital block, will now be chargeable.

Other tests, such as high-costing CT scans (Rs 2,000 for the test and Rs 4,000 for the injection before the scan), will be payable by all patients coming to the hospital wing like the ones visiting the institute wing. MRI, which was conducted for Rs 2,500 at the hospital, will be brought at par with that of the RMLIMS rate of Rs 3,500. However, all emergency services will continue to be free as before.

While the RMLIM justifies the charges in context to the rise in the cost of the equipment and their maintenance, Sumit Prakash, a health activist based in Lucknow, says that this is not justified at all. “The rise in cost doesn’t make the poor man richer, and he cannot be expected to pay these charges. RMLIMS is expected to cater for the poor and near-poor class people. They deserve to be exempted from all these expenses as it is the basic duty of the government to ensure health care to the people,” he said.

However, RMLIMS spokesperson Dr Vikram Singh told NewsClick, said: “We have received the government order to implement the new rates. The rates will be in force from July 9. The implementation of the new system will also bring many benefits to the patients. Like it will also be beneficial for patients as with the Re 1 registration, they had to get in lines several times if inter-department services were needed. Now, with the registration valid for six months, they will easily move from one department to another without getting in a queue every time,”

When questioned the poor will get affected after the decision, Singh said, “For poor patients, there are government schemes such as Ayushman Bharat, Asadhya Rog Scheme, BPL card holder benefits and Janani Suraksha Yojana through which they can get benefits.”

The Lohia Hospital and Lohia Institute in Lucknow announced their merger in 2019 in a bid to create a super integrated system of imparting health care services and treatment in the city. The apex institute has also clarified that it will be charging for its services in 2 years towards the goal of advanced provisions here.

This has raised concern among people, who have urged the management to rethink its decision. The trouble was highlighted by Kusum Devi from Barabanki, who said, “My son has a stomach problem, and we bring him here for treatment. Due to free services, there is no financial burden, but if it stops, then we will be in trouble.”

Echoing a similar view, Ratan Pal, who came from neighbouring state Bihar, said, “Due to free treatment including medicine and all the x-ray and tests, people from even Siwan, Chapra and other parts of Bihar visit Lohia hospital because we cannot afford them outside. But if we have to pay it here at Lohia, where will we go?” asked Pal.

Manju Devi, who came from Gorakhpur for her treatment, “The decision will cause a huge burden on people as they are already economically impacted by the pandemic. The government’s decision comes at a time when several states have made basic health treatment free of cost but charging Rs 100 for registration which was Rs 1 only, and increasing rates of tests and MRI, X-rays will show the exit gate of the hospital to the poor people like me,” she said.

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