Concerns mount as patients decry ‘excessive fees’ at some private clinics in Kashmir

Srinagar: A surge in complaints from patients seeking medical care at private clinics in Kashmir has brought attention to issues ranging from steep fees to the absence of heating arrangements during the winter season.

News agency KNS reported that patients have raised alarms about what they perceive as “excessive” fees charged by some private clinics in the Kashmir Valley.

The costs associated with consultations, diagnostic tests, and prescribed medications have become a substantial financial burden for some.

Shabir Ahmad, a patient, expressed shock at being charged Rs 600 for a routine visit to a Gastroenterologist, highlighting the growing disparity between healthcare costs and the financial capacity of a significant portion of the population.

Patients, choosing to remain anonymous, shared stories of unexpected bills, advocating for greater transparency in pricing and a mechanism to address overcharging concerns.

Another pressing issue raised by patients is the lack of heating arrangements in the majority of the private clinics, particularly during the harsh winter months in Kashmir. The cold climate poses additional challenges for patients, especially those with chronic illnesses or elderly individuals more susceptible to the cold.

Complaints range from uncomfortably cold waiting areas to chilly examination rooms, prompting questions about the adequacy of facilities to provide essential warmth to patients.

Some have reported avoiding necessary medical visits during winter due to the discomfort caused by the lack of heating infrastructure.

In response to these concerns, calls for increased regulatory oversight of private clinics in Kashmir are gaining momentum.

Advocates argue that regulations are necessary not only to address issues related to excessive fees but also to ensure healthcare facilities provide a comfortable environment for patients, regardless of weather conditions.

Local activists and healthcare advocates are urging authorities to establish a mechanism for monitoring and regulating the pricing of medical services in private clinics. They emphasize the need for enforcing standards that guarantee the provision of basic amenities, including heating arrangements, to safeguard the well-being of patients.

Healthcare providers respond by stating that the costs associated with running a medical facility contribute to the pricing structure, including infrastructure maintenance and operational expenses.

However, they acknowledge the need for balance to ensure healthcare remains accessible to a broader segment of the population.

Healthcare professionals express a commitment to addressing heating arrangement issues, pledging efforts to enhance patient comfort, particularly during the winter season.(KNS)

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