Delhi: Private hospitals and nursing homes are finding themselves amidst a lot of confusion after the Prime Minister announced demonetization of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on Tuesday night. Where as the Central government hospitals were instructed by JP Nadda, Union Health Minister to stick to a 72-hour guideline of accepting the old notes so that the patients are not inconvenienced, the private hospitals have no such directives to operate with and are left clueless regarding how to handle the situation. As a result, pandemonium prevailed on the provisioning of healthcare services across the country.
“There seems to be lack of clarity over the use of these notes in hospitals. We will wait for the fine print before we know we can use these notes. Else, we may ask patients to pay through cheque instead of cash,” said Dr. B. Bhaskar Rao, CEO of KIMS Hospital told the Hindu.
Many Hospitals refused to accept the demonetization notes. A press release issued by the Fortis Healthcare stated, “.. at Fortis hospitals across the country, we continue to accept payments through credit card, debit card and electronic banking transfers. As 500 and 1000 Rupee denomination notes are no longer legal tender we are only accepting 100 Rs and lower currency notes. As per Government regulation, a PAN card and legitimate ID proof is however required for payments in cash exceeding Rs 50,000.”
There were many hospitals that continued to accept the currency notes, but confusion still prevailed on account of how they will be deposited. The Manipal group was accepting cash, reports HT , but with an identify proof. “Banks are closed today. (So) we are accepting money with ID proof and signature and will deposit (cash) with bank tomorrow. If bank rejects then the patients have to come back and pay,” said Ranjan R Pai, managing director & chief executive of Manipal Education and Medical Group.
Fortis group has also written to the government to allow private hospitals to accept the demonetised notes as is allowed for the government hospitals.
“.. In view of the hardship being caused to the large number of patients at private hospitals, we have made an urgent representation to the Government that this exemption should apply equally, for payments, at private hospitals.We are following up with the authorities and hope the Government will step in quickly to resolve this anomaly,” a Fortis Release said
Worst hit by the situation have been the private practitioners, who based on the government directive could not accept the currency notes, and were in a tricky situation with not having the POS credit/debit card machines at their clinics. With the mounting confusion, many stayed away from work today.
Speaking to Medical Dialogues team, Dr Rakesh Gupta, President, Delhi Medical Association said, ” Many clinics were shut today, given the fact that doctors could not accept the currency notes and did not have the credit card machines at their clinics. Moreover, those who did open, faced a lot of heat from the patients to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. ”
Doctors, at the same time came out in support of the Government’s move. ” We request all doctors to act on faith and provide treatment to patients in the coming few days, with less focus on economic considerations for now. We are quite sure that the situation is going to improve in the coming days, ” Dr Rakesh Gupta, said.