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September 16, 2018

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Exorbitant fees: CJP hints at forensic audit of private hospitals

LAHORE: Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Saturday took major private hospitals in Lahore to task for minting money from the patients in the name of medical facilities and indicated to order the forensic audit of their accounts. He took suo motu notice on hospitals charging exorbitant fees from the patients for medical treatment after receiving complaints in this regard.

The court had summoned owners/shareholders of Doctors Hospitals, Surgimed Hospital, Omar Hospital, Hameed Latif Hospital, Midcity Hospital, National Hospital (Defence), Farooq Hospital and Al-Raazi Hospital. However, representatives of only three hospitals – Surgimed, Al-Raazi and Hameed Latif — made their appearance in the court. Punjab Secretary Health Saqib Zafar and Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) COO Dr Ajmal Khan were also present in the court.

Hearing the case at the Supreme Court’s Lahore registry, the chief justice observed that the court wanted to know steps taken by the commission to regulate pricing of the private hospitals.

Dr Khan confessed inability of the commission, saying unfortunately the PHC failed to discharge its statutory obligation of regulating and controlling prices of healthcare services. He, however, said scrutiny of price lists of at least Lahore based major private hospitals could be carried out within six weeks.

The chief justice remarked that private hospitals are fleecing patients by charging them hefty amount on a per-day basis.

The court has been receiving complaints against the private hospitals on regular basis and would not allow them to keep plundering the people. These hospitals are working without having parking lots but now they would be fined.

Chief Justice Nisar observed that some of the private hospitals raised illegal structures and occupied public roads for their parking. He said Surgimed Hospital used major portion of Zafar Ali Road for its parking.

A lawyer pointed out that Surgimed and Akram medical Complex were establishment in front of drain on Zafar Ali Road and Jail Road respectively.

At this, the chief justice directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to submit a report explaining as to how permission was granted to build hospitals at the bank drains.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar also directed the LDA director general to visit Hameed Latif Hospital on Ferozepur Road and examine if there was any illegal construction. He said the private hospitals will be slapped with Rs 10,000 fine to be paid in dams fund for each vehicle if found parked outside their parking areas.

The chief justice adjourned hearing till Sunday (today) and summoned owners of the private hospitals along with their price lists.

Meanwhile, the chief justice also asked the LDA DG to visit Hameed Latif Hospital and furnish a report regarding illegal construction over there.

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