PIMS has started to charge patients heavily after its merger with SZABMU, says PIMS Employees Association spokesman
Patients being charged only for recently initiated advanced tests, says PIMS VC
ISLAMABAD: While the federal government is making tall claims about providing free treatment to patients through the Prime Minister’s (PM) National Health Programme, the ground reality is that the citizens are being heavily charged at the public sector hospitals in the federal capital. Unfortunately, not many officials are lending an ear to the complaints of the patients and their families, who seek improvement of services to match the increase in treatment charges.
Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and Federal Government Services Hospital (Polyclinic) are the two major public sector hospitals in the federal capital. Surprisingly patients have been treated in entirely different ways in both the facilities. While the former charged the patients heavily for various blood tests, the later did not charge even a penny.
The patients visiting the PIMS hospital were often seen complaining that they had to pay a lot of money to conduct various tests. Contrary to this, the patients visiting the Polyclinic had a different story to tell.
The patients at Polyclinic said that they did not pay any medical fee for blood tests conducted in the hospital. Besides, they said that they were being given the required medicines in the facility, which was unprecedented in the country.
PIMS is the largest hospital in the federal capital where around 10,000 patients visit on a daily basis, while the Polyclinic is the oldest hospital of the city where around 7,000 to 8,000 visitors came for treatment daily.
A senior official told Pakistan Today that the merger of PIMS with the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU) was mainly responsible for the escalation of treatment charges at the facility for patients because most of the hospital budget was being utilised by the university.
The official said that due to the merger, the hospital had been facing financial issues due to rising expenditure; hence it was necessary to start charging the patients more to meet the growing needs of the facility.
The patients, despite waiting for months, have to pay thousands of rupees for some tests in PIMS, such as MRI. This test is usually conducted free of cost in public sector hospitals, the official added.
PIMS employees have been struggling since long to separate the hospital from the university so as to restore the original status of the hospital and the employees. However, the issue faced many hiccups along the way as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) resisted the move in the senate due to which the matter was referred to a standing committee, despite the fact that the National Assembly had already passed the bill.
Talking to Pakistan Today, PIMS Employees Association Spokesman Dr Asfandyar Khan said that the separation of the hospital from the medical university was necessary to ease the burden on patients. He said that the university was currently using all the resources and the entire budget of the hospital.
Asfandyar went on to say that the charges of the tests conducted in the facility were almost doubled or tripled in PIMS in comparison to Polyclinic hospital; however, he vowed that it would be reversed once the hospital was separated from the university.
When this scribe contacted PIMS Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Javed Akram, he said that the university was not using the hospital funds and resources, quickly adding that the university carried the hospital’s burden too.
He claimed that the university had a separate budget since its inception, which was being granted by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), while adding that laboratories in the hospital had been set up through the university funds. “Fatima Jinnah authority laboratory was recently granted the university funds,” the vice chancellor claimed.
Dr Akram confirmed that the patients were being charged for various tests; however, he said that price of only those tests have been increased which were initiated recently. We are charging most patients half the price while the poor have been getting free treatment, he added.
“I am referring to 19 special tests which were not conducted earlier in the hospital as these are very advance tests. Only those patients are being charged by the facility who could afford the treatment,” he added.
He also said that such advance tests were not conducted in Polyclinic and the cost was double at private laboratories, adding that only out door patients were being charged by the hospital.