State body fixes ambulance charge limit at Rs. 3,000
Statesman | 27 May 2023
The commission has also fixed rates like Rs 25 per kilometer for an air-conditioned ambulance and Rs 20 per kilometer for a non-AC ambulance. Oxygen service can be charged at Rs 300 per hour
The West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission (WBCERC) has fixed a maximum rate Rs 3,000 for ferrying patients in an ambulance within the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and sub-urban areas.
This comes at the backdrop of the shocking incident when a 52-year-old renal patient in Murshidabad’s Salar died inside an ambulance that was allegedly stopped by drivers of other ambulances on 17 May. In a bid to streamline the system of fleecing exorbitant rates from patients’ relatives by a section of errant private ambulance operators across the state, the WBCERC on Wednesday issued an advisory mentioning fare of an ambulance ferrying patients to hospitals.
The retired Judge Asim Banerjee, chairman of the commission, on Wednesday stated in the advisory that the maximum charge for ferrying patients in an ambulance should not cross Rs 3,000 ‘within the municipal areas of Kolkata and suburbs.’ The commission has also fixed rates like Rs 25 per kilometer for an air-conditioned ambulance and Rs 20 per kilometer for a non-AC ambulance. Oxygen service can be charged at Rs 300 per hour.
Justice Banerjee also said for now, patients or their relatives could approach the commission if they are charged more than the rates fixed through the advisory issued in 2020.
He has also proposed that the clinical establishment regulatory commission would also discuss with the state transport department seeking the latter’s opinion on how to solve the overcharging practice by ambulances.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, most of the private ambulance operators used to run brisk business charging exorbitant rates from patients’ families to ferry them to respective hospitals from their residences.
A senior administrative officer of a premier private hospital in the southern part of the city said that most private healthcare units do not have adequate number of ambulances. As a result, patients often have to depend on private ambulance operators.
Taking advantage of the situation, private operators overcharge patient parties, he said requesting anonymity.