Health Crisis in Pune: PMC Helpline Unresponsive Amid Rising Complaints Against Private Hospitals

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Pune, 10th June 2024: The city of Pune has witnessed a series of protests against the exorbitant bills and treatment fees levied by private hospitals, which are seen as undermining patients’ rights. The Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) efforts to address these issues appear to be falling short.

In line with the Maharashtra Nursing Homes Registration Rules 2021, which came into effect on January 14, 2021, it is mandatory for hospitals to establish a grievance redressal cell. The PMC initially responded by setting up a temporary Grievance Redressal Room and began documenting complaints. However, this initiative seems to have been neglected over time.

The PMC’s Health Department had set up a grievance redressal cell specifically to handle complaints about private hospitals’ malpractices. They also launched a toll-free number, 18002334151, which was supposed to be operational during office hours from 10 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.

Despite these measures, there has been no response from the toll-free number for the past five months. Calls to the number ring for two to three seconds before a recorded message states, “Sorry, there is no reply from this number.” This lack of response has exacerbated patients’ problems and painted a poor picture of the healthcare system.

The non-functioning toll-free number raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the PMC’s grievance redressal system. Initially, the number was active for six months but has since been ignored, leaving patients with no avenue to address their grievances.

Consequently, patients are facing increased pressure from private hospitals without any support from the PMC’s Health Department. This situation highlights a disconnect between the health department and the needs of ordinary patients, who are left vulnerable to the exploitative practices of private healthcare providers.

Efforts to reach out to the PMC for comments on the non-functional grievance redressal system have yet to receive a response.