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Seven Hills Hospital, BMC stand-off: Will public-private collaborations work?

P.T. Jyothi Datta Rahul Wadke Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018

Price of medicines charged to the poor is key issue







It was touted to be among the largest hospitals in Asia, with about 1,500 beds. But close to a year after being inaugurated by the President Ms Pratibha Patil — Seven Hills hospital in Mumbai is navigating through the rough weather it has run into, over the price of medicines given to patients from economically poor backgrounds.

Located close to the Sahar international airport, the hospital's plan to scale up from 300 beds to 1,500 still awaits a green signal from the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation).

So what could have been showcased as a large healthcare public-private partnership (PPP), now turns out to put a question-mark on whether such collaborations are workable.

The total project cost is estimated at Rs 1,500 crore, says Dr Pankaj Mankad, who joined the Hospital as Chief Executive about three weeks ago.

The grand plan is to have a hospital with over 30 operation theatres, 24 dialysis units and 300 intensive care units.

Stalemate

At the heart of the hospital-BMC stand-off is the price of medicines given to poor patients – particularly since the land is provided by the BMC and 20 per cent of the beds are ear-marked for such patients.

The hospital has proposed the appointment of a vigilance officer from its end and an OSD (officer on special duty) by the BMC, to ensure that the hospital is on par with other BMC hospitals when dealing with needy patients, Dr Mankad, told Business Line.

The standoff had resulted in the Hyderabad-headquartered hospital's expansion plans, including those for a medical college, not taking off.

On whether the impasse is close to being resolved, Ms Manisha Patankar Mahiskar, Additional Commissioner of BMC, said there has been broad agreement with Seven Hills Hospitals on most of the outstanding issues.

Still to be resolved is the issue of providing to poor patients medicines at municipal rates, she said.

The tender document and the resolution passed by the general body of BMC states that the medicines should be provided at municipal rates. But the hospital administration is taking help of an Annexure in the Draft Lease Deed to charge the poor patients at market rates, she added.

The MCGM has 16 schedules of medicines under which the patients have to be given medicines at municipal rates and the medicines outside the purview of the schedule should be charged according to a rate card, Ms Mahiskar said.

The over-arching lease deed states that prices will be uniform across medicines given to all patients, says Dr Mankad, adding however, that the issue needs to be reconciled “else the losers are Seven Hills”.

Distrust

Commenting on the big picture of the workability of PPPs, Mr Ratan Jalan, Founder & Principal Consultant of Medium Healthcare Consulting, points out that such collaborations need to be based on trust to be successful.

Very often there is an element of distrust between the Government and the private company leading to failure being virtually written into the programme, he added.

Published on June 10, 2011

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