Patients at private clinics aghast at ‘excessive’ fees, lack of heating arrangements

SRINAGAR, NOV 28: A series of complaints have emerged from patients seeking medical care at private clinics in Kashmir, pointing to grievances ranging from exorbitant fees to the absence of heating arrangements during the harsh winter months.
These concerns have brought attention to the challenges faced by individuals seeking healthcare in the region and have sparked discussions on the need for regulatory measures to ensure fair practices in the private healthcare sector.
Several patients have voiced their concerns over what they describe as “excessive” fees charged by private clinics in the Kashmir Valley.
The cost of consultations, diagnostic tests, and prescribed medications, according to some patients, has become a significant financial burden.
One of the patients, Shabir Ahmad said that he was shocked to know after a Gastroenterologist doctor charged him Rs 600 for a routine visit.
The allegations suggest a growing disparity between the cost of healthcare services and the financial capacity of a considerable section of the population.
Patients, who preferred to remain anonymous, shared stories of grappling with unexpected bills, with some expressing the need for greater transparency in pricing and a mechanism to address overcharging issues.
Another critical issue highlighted by patients is the lack of heating arrangements in private clinics, particularly during the severe winter months in Kashmir.
The cold climate poses additional challenges for patients seeking medical attention, especially those with chronic illnesses or elderly individuals who may be more vulnerable to the cold.
Complaints range from uncomfortably cold waiting areas to chilly examination rooms, raising questions about the adequacy of facilities to provide essential warmth to patients.
Some patients have even reported avoiding necessary medical visits during winter due to the discomfort caused by the lack of heating infrastructure.
In light of these concerns, there are growing calls for increased regulatory oversight of private clinics in Kashmir.
Advocates argue that regulations are needed not only to address issues related to excessive fees but also to ensure that healthcare facilities are equipped to provide a comfortable environment for patients, irrespective of weather conditions.
Local activists and healthcare advocates are urging the authorities to establish a mechanism for monitoring and regulating the pricing of medical services in private clinics. Additionally, they emphasize the need for enforcing standards that guarantee the provision of basic amenities, including heating arrangements, to safeguard the well-being of patients.
In response to the allegations, some healthcare providers argue that the costs associated with running a medical facility, including infrastructure maintenance and operational expenses, contribute to the pricing structure. However, they acknowledge the need for a balance that ensures healthcare remains accessible to a wider segment of the population.
Healthcare professionals also express a commitment to addressing the issue of heating arrangements, stating that efforts will be made to enhance the comfort of patients, particularly during the winter season.

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