December 17, 2016 12:10:00 am
Going cashless seems to be a challenge at government medical colleges and hospitals, where the last date to accept demonetised Rs 500 notes was December 15. Now, government and district hospitals have no other option but to purchase card swipe machines.
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Officials at Sassoon general hospital said that they would get card swipe machines by Monday. In a meeting held on Friday, it was decided to procure at least five such machines, said Sassoon hospital authorities. Hospital officials pointed out that “a majority of patients in as many as 17 categories are provided free-of-cost treatment,” adding that payments, if at all, ranged between Rs 300-400. In these categories — including those for persons below the poverty line, senior citizens and women, among others — patients can avail free treatment at government hospitals.
But with cashless transactions becoming an absolute necessity, Dr Pravin Shingare, Director of Medical Education and Research (DMER), said that new software will be installed at government medical colleges to handle the payment of fees and other cash transactions.
“The finance and IT departments are working on this move as there 16 large government medical colleges and hospitals. Going cashless would also entail keeping a record of the amount that has been debited and sent to the government treasury,” he pointed out.
At the 23 district hospitals run by the state government, Dr Satish Pawar, director of Health, Maharashtra, said that instructions have been issued to procure card swipe machines from the contingency fund. “Recently, we told district hospital authorities to install card swipe machines for smooth transactions,” he said.
There are 10,580 health sub centres and 1,811 primary health centres. “At primary health centres, these machines are of little use as treatment is free and the maximum a patient has to pay ranges between Rs 5 and Rs 10,” said Dr Pawar. The maximum cost a patient may incur is for radiological and pathological investigations; for instance, an X-Ray which cost Rs 30 earlier now costs Rs 50.
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