BHOPAL: A controversy—and a dispute— have cropped up over the rates fixed by the government for transportation charges for private ambulance service. Private ambulances seem to have tossed off all orders on the rates fixed and are charging transportation charges according to their whims depending upon the situation. Private ambulance operators do not agree to the rates fixed by the government and are flouting the government’s directives, but the people have no option but to pay for their service.
According to the new rates, Rs 500 has been fixed for the first 10 kilometres in the urban areas and, then onwards, Rs 25 per kilometer; Rs 800 has been fixed for first 20 kilometers in the rural areas. Earlier, for basic life-support ambulances, the rate was Rs 250 for the first 10 kilometre and, then onwards, Rs 20 per kilometer.
Even though the rates have been fixed for private ambulances, the operators are charging fanciful—and exorbitant—rates because, when the family members of Covid patients shift them from lower-facility hospitals to higher-facility one, they need oxygen support and other facilities in the ambulance. In the process, the private ambulance operators toss the rates fixed by the government to the winds.
Patients are in a comparatively better condition when they are admitted from home, but, when they are shifted from lower-facility hospitals to highe-facility ones, they need oxygen support and other facilities. So, the charges increase according to the demand for facilities. Private hospitals take undue advantage of this kind of a situation and charge hugely inflated rates. The helpless patients’ families have no other option but to pay the exorbitant charges that ar4e demanded from them.