Mamata Banerjee restricts free medical treatment scheme to state citizens only, cites financial constraints

By: |
New Delhi | May 11, 2018 5:28 PM

The West Bengal government had in 2015 announced that five state-run hospitals will provide free treatment to the citizens of West Bengal and other states as well.

West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal hospital, free treatment in BengalWest Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Express photo)

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today announced that state-run hospitals will no more provide free treatment to patients coming here from other states or countries. Speaking at the 6th convention of West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Banerjee said that hospitals will now extend the facility of free treatment only to the residents of state.

She said that the state government is facing a serious financial crisis, hence it will not be feasible for the Trinamool Congress government to provide free of cost treatment to outsiders.

“Free treatment at state-run hospitals is unique in Bengal. But we have noticed that people from some neighbouring states and even some neighbouring countries are coming here and trying to avail the benefits. But considering the financial constraints of the state government, it will no more be possible to provide free treatment to patients coming from other states or countries,” The Indian Express quoted her as saying.

Banerjee, who also holds the health portfolio, said that to identify the citizens of the Bengal, who will be entitled to avail the benefit, the government will issue a special card through which once can get treatment at hospitals. “This card will only be given to the resident of West Bengal,” she added.

The state government had in 2015 announced that five state-run hospitals will provide free treatment to the citizens of West Bengal and other states as well.

The Trinamool Congress supremo noted that the denial of free treatment to outsiders doesn’t mean that the hospitals will not attend patients coming to the state from other states. She said that patients can undergo treatment at any hospital by paying fee.

“We will not refuse to treat patients of other states. We will just stop giving them free treatment,” the IE report quoted her as saying further.

The IE report, citing health department sources, said that out of 100 patients, 20 are from other states. Majority are from neighbouring Bihar, Jharkhand, eastern UP, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Majority of unskilled labourers from neighbouring Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and eastern Uttar Pradesh migrate to West Bengal to earn their livelihood. The state has also become a safe haven for Bangladeshi residents in last few years who cross over the border in search of jobs.

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