Health treatment for all citizens irrespective of their state, rules Delhi HC

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Lok Nayak Hospital to conduct, on December 26, the MRI test on a Bihar resident, who requires immediate surgery, as this had been scheduled for July 2024, since he is not a Delhi resident.

Appearing for Gulam Mahabub, advocate Ashok Agarwal contended before the court that the petitioner is a resident of Bihar and the discrimination on basis of a Delhi voter ID card is being practiced regularly. He had sought that the hospital clarify its policy.

Counsel for the hospital, however, stated that they are not following any such policy.

The court further stated that where a patient’s health treatment is concerned, treatment has to be provided to all citizens, irrespective of which state they belong to while directing that the petitioner’s MRI be conducted in December.

“I was advised to get surgery done immediately for my condition but when I got the date for the MRI of my knee, it was slotted for 2024. How will I manage to earn for my family in this condition, if I have to wait for two years only to get a test?” Mahabub said during the last hearing.

Agarwal had said that the hospital had initially advised Mahabub to get the MRI from a private lab, but due to financial problems, he cannot afford this.

“The hospital provides free MRI tests under the Delhi government scheme, but he was denied this facility because he does not possess a Delhi voter ID card. We sent a legal notice to the hospital on December 6 this year, and based on that, when they agreed to give him a date, they slotted him for July 15, 2024,” Agarwal had said.

While the hospital did not comment on the issue, its senior doctors, however, said that two to three years is the “normal” waiting time in the hospital due to the heavy rush.

“There is no discrimination in this case. Lok Nayak gets thousands of patients every day. The average waiting time for tests is two to three years and in some cases, it is even five years. That is why in emergency cases, we advise patients to get their tests done privately if they have the means to afford it, so that their treatment process does not get delayed,” a senior doctor from the hospital said.

Mahabub said: “I have three daughters and a son and all of them are studying. After my injury, we could not stay in Delhi. We cannot afford it. I shuttle between my village in Bihar and here. I have to keep coming here for my treatment. The more it gets prolonged, the worse our family’s financial situation will get.”

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