A parliamentary panel has recommended the simplification of procedures in a central health scheme so that cancer patients are not made to run from pillar to post to complete the paperwork required for their treatment.
It also asked the Ministry of Health to initiate strict action against hospitals harassing senior citizens and pensioners suffering from cancer, and to de-empanel them from the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) if such instances recur.
The panel, in its 106th report on Demands for Grants 2018-19 for the department of health, expressed concern over problems that elderly cancer patients face in getting proper treatment in CGHS-empanelled hospitals.
It said apart from being given the correct treatment, such patients needed to be handled sensitively and with empathy.
Instead of the harassment meted out to them by the hospitals for factors such as incomplete paperwork, they should be treated on a priority basis and the hospitals should take cognizance of the new rules and regulations of the Ministry which seek to simplify the process of treatment, it said in its report submitted to the Rajya Sabha on Friday.
"The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Ministry should work more towards simplification of paperwork/procedure involved in treatment of cancer patients so that they are not subjected to running from one centre to another to complete the formalities for continuance of their treatment," it said.
In its report, it said action should be taken against errant hospitals.
"The Ministry should also take action against hospitals harassing senior citizens/pensioners who are cancer patients and depanel them from CGHS if similar instances occur repeatedly," it said.
The committee also asked the department to make efforts to resolve the problem of shortage of staff at the CGHS centres and further formulate motivating strategies to enhance the workforce under the scheme to ensure that it helps CGHS beneficiaries.
The CGHS is a critical scheme with a beneficiary base of more than 32.12 lakh people and serves more than 10 lakh card-holders, according to the Healthy ministry's annual report of 2017-18.
The Committee pointed out that despite the ministry's efforts to make more doctors join the CGHS, out of 1,848 sanctioned posts of allopathic doctors, 436 posts were lying vacant.
"The Committee feels that the shortage of doctors at CGHS wellness centres is a perennial problem and would continue to exist if concrete measures are not taken at the right time," it said.
Pointing out that the allocations for CGHS for 2018-19 had been reduced by 15 per cent, the committee recommended that the department assess fund requirements as the lack of funds affected the execution of ongoing projects and activities under the scheme.
The allocation for CGHS for 2018-19 is Rs 1304.69 crore, about 15 per cent lower than the projected amount of Rs 1530.24 crore.
"The committee is of the considered view that reduced funds would definitely affect the execution of on-going projects and activities under CGHS," the report said.
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