The Department of Supply Management on Monday ordered Nepal National Hospital at Kalanki to shut down for not possessing an operating licence and failing to meet various government standards. The errant hospital has been given a week to transfer its inpatients and close down.
According to the department, the hospital was found to be flouting government rules during market monitoring conducted last month. “We have asked hospital authorities to relocate the inpatients and close the entire business within the deadline,” said Director General Kumar Dahal of the department.
Dahal added that the department had stepped up inspection of health service providers following a proliferation of hospitals and clinics.
“Such outlets have been found charging exorbitant fees from customers. They also lack necessary equipment and technical manpower which could pose a risk to the life of the general public,” he said.
Last month, the department booked six private hospitals on the charge of violating government rules: Nepal Institute of Neurology and Allied Sciences in Bansbari, Grande International Hospital on Tokha Road, Ishan Children’s Nursing and Maternity Home in Basundhara, Vayodha Hospital in Balkhu, Norvic International Hospital and College and B&B Hospital in Lalitpur. They have been accused of overcharging their patients.
Apart from taking 5 percent health service tax and 13 percent value added tax from patients, these hospitals have been found charging extra fees under different headings such as bed service charge and nursing service charge.
As per the department, the private hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley are estimated to have raked in Rs2-2.5 billion in illegal service charges alone in the last fiscal year. In addition, the hospitals have been found to be violating the government rule requiring them to provide free hospital beds to patients from low-income groups and underprivileged communities. The law requires hospitals to provide 10 percent of the total number of beds without charge to the indigent.
The department has handed over the cases of the six hospitals to the Metropolitan Police Circle, Teku recommending action against them for collecting fees unlawfully.
“However, the police seem to be deliberately delaying carrying out investigation against them,” said a department official. In response, the police have blamed the department for not providing the required information to allow them to proceed with the cases.
“We have asked the department to state the exact amount of money that the hospitals have cheated from their patients, and how long they have been involved in such misconduct, but it has not provided the details. This has prevented us from conducting an investigation promptly,” said an official at the Metropolitan Police Circle who asked not to be named.