Kolkata hospitals see decline in BD patients

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 19 Aug 2017, 00:14:39
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Kolkata hospitals see decline in BD patients

Some have posted a drop of 15pc, most have seen a sharper slide
KOLKATA, Aug 18: Six of the top private hospitals in the city have seen a sharp decline in the number of patients from Bangladesh over the last few months. While some have registered a drop of nearly 15 per cent, most have seen a sharper slide in the number of admissions taken and procedures undergone by Bangladeshi patients, a consistent source of business for over a decade, according to an online report by indiatimes.com.

Even though patient volume from the neighbouring country has increased manifold over the years, the recent months -- according to a section of private hospital authorities -- have seen the drop particularly after some hospitals came under fire from the state government, which held many guilty of negligence and bill inflation.

The three centres of AMRI Hospitals at Dhakuria, Mukundapur and Salt Lake receive around 2,500 patients monthly from Bangladesh. Since March, the number has dropped by nearly 15 per cent. AMRI CEO Rupak Barua feels the slide is directly linked to the bad publicity Kolkata hospitals received after the CMRI ransack in February. The incident had prompted CM Mamata Banerjee to pull up private hospitals for allegedly fleecing patients.

Ruby General Hospital saw a marginal drop in the number of both admissions and outpatients from Bangladesh between March and June. The figures picked up in July, but the flight of Bangladeshis to other cities hasn't stopped, says Subhashish Dutta, general manager (administration).

"Ever since Kolkata hospitals came under fire this February, Bangladeshis have been following the developments keenly and exchanging notes on social media. They are clearly wary of our hospitals now, especially when it comes to taking admissions. While the drop in numbers isn't very sharp yet, the crisis period is not over. Unless we can shrug off the negative image and regain their trust, the numbers might tumble further," says Dutta.

Ruby receives around 450 Bangladeshi patients per month, including around 30 indoor patients. The latter had dropped to 20 in June.

Dutta adds that stringent visa rules -- which now make it mandatory to secure a medical visa for hospital admission -- could also contribute to the falling numbers. "Even though this is true for any Indian city, Bangladeshis have traditionally preferred to club a Kolkata trip with treatment. So, they invariably come to Kolkata with a tourist visa, keeping their treatment plans fluid. Now they will be forced to plan in advance, in which case they could prefer cities like Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi that have a better image than Kolkata," he says.

Two private hospitals in south Kolkata, which together receive around 700 Bangladeshi patients a month, have seen a 5.0 per cent drop in the number of inpatients over the last five months. While the number of those seeking consultations haven't dropped significantly, few are seeking admissions, according to a spokesperson. "Till recently, treatment in Kolkata would be clubbed with a holiday trip to the city. The pattern has changed. Many are flying down to southern states after undergoing a few diagnostic tests here as outpatients. Previously, these patients would take admission and undergo procedures in our hospitals," the spokesperson said.

Some hospitals have witnessed a marginal rise in the number of outpatients, though. Apollo Gleneagles, for instance, has been receiving more than 6,500 patients every month. RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS), too, has seen a slight spiral in the number of patients from Bangladesh and other states.
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