‘Fifty percent drop in patients patronizing private hospitals’


Health care in a public sector hospital

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

‘There has been a 50 percent drop in the number of patients seeking medical treatment at private hospitals, mainly on account of sky-rocketing charges for numerous medical tests conducted at such hospitals, Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena said.

The minister pointed out that some administrators at private hospitals had told him that their businesses had seen a sharp decline, amounting in some cases to 50 percent, in fairly recent times. He was of the view that some private hospitals were in the habit of overcharging patients who were recommended to undergo highly expensive medical tests, such as, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), CT Scan ( Computerized Tommography) and Ultrasound scanning.

Minister Sirisena added that private hospitals were overcharging patients for common blood tests, such as, lipid profile and fasting blood sugar. Overcharging could be identified as the main reason for patients boycotting private medical centers.

Sirisena said that unlike in the past, standards at state sector hospitals were on par with those in hospitals in advanced countries. He said many state-of-the-art medical apparatuses had been installed at government hospitals for the convenience of patients. Now even wealthy patients were interested in seeking medical treatment at government hospitals.

Sirisena stressed that he had suggested to medical administrators of private sector hospitals to lower medical costs and improve the quality of their medical services. ‘I think private sector hospitals are overcharging. If they want to attract more patients the costs must be reduced. Government sector hospitals are not competing with them. But state-run hospitals are now equipped with modern facilities and well-trained staff’. the minister said.

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