Some private hospitals have been accused of taking extra money in addition to the Covid-19 testing fees set by the government.
The government has permitted 13 private hospitals in the capital to conduct Covid-19 tests and set a fee of Tk3,500 for each test.
People who went to Labaid, Square and Anwer Khan hospitals in the capital on Tuesday morning raised the allegations of extra fee. They complained against the three hospitals for taking an extra Tk1,000 from each person in the name of doctor's fee, service charge and dengue test. In the name of service charge, Labaid is taking another Tk300.
MdSagor, who went to Labaidin Dhanmondi on Tuesday, said he had earlier come on June 1 for Covid-19 test.He went to Labaid consultant Dr Nur Mohammad on that day as per the proper instructions of the hospital, for which he had to pay a fee of Tk1,000. The doctor referred him to the hospital's diagnostic department for a Covid-19 teston June 2.
Accordingly, he arrived at 8:30am.
A trader by profession, Sagor told The Business Standard, "I paid Tk1,000 in doctor's fee but they did not give me any money receipt. Again, they have taken Tk300 more than the official fee for the Covid-19 test."
He showed the money receipt of Tk3,800. "Labaid has taken a total fee of Tk4,800."
Speaking to four other people who came to the hospital on June 2, it was learned that Tk4,800 was taken from each for the Covid-19 test.
Additional Director General (administration) of the health directorate ProfessorNasima Sultana told The Business Standard that such allegations had been raised against several hospitals. "But we have manpower shortage now. So, the matter has been handed over to the national intelligence agency.According to their report, we will take action."
Speaking about dengue tests along with coronavirus tests in different hospitals, she said the health directorate had recently made a decision to conduct dengue tests along with coronavirus tests.
"Maybe that is why they are taking an extra Tk500. But if they take more than that, it is unforgivable."
People have also complained against Square Hospitals for taking an extra Tk1,000.
If anyone goes to this hospital for the Covid-19 test, he first has to go to the 'flu corner'. After seeing a doctor there for a fee of Tk1,000, he is referred to for the Covid-19 test.
Asaf Uddin Touhid of Old Dhakacame to the hospital on June 2.He said, "There is no money receipt for the Tk1,000 fee. However, they have given the money receipt of Tk3,500 for the test."
There are allegations against Anwer Khan Modern Medical College Hospital that it is taking Tk500 as service charge and another Tk500 in the name of dengue test.
Sadia Afrin,a physician by profession,on May 24posted a complaint on Facebook against Anwer Khan Modern Medical College Hospital and Square Hospitals.
She told The Business Standard, "I have had coronavirus symptoms for a few days. I went to private hospital thinking it would take a long time in government hospital. In Anwer Khan hospital, I was asked to pay Tk4,500 in the name of sampleand dengue test. I told them I am a doctor and asked them to keepthe fee fixed by the government. But no one listened to me. Later, when I went to Square Hospitals, I was asked to pay an extra Tk1,000 thousand for doctor's fee."
She said that even after introducing herself as a doctor in the two big hospitals of the capital, she did not get any benefit. After that, she returned home without test and later went to government hospital.
She posted the details of the incident on Facebook. She also gave this reporter a picture of the bill of Anwer Khan hospital.
Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) President Ghulam Rahman told The Business Standard,"We have heard such allegations. But so far, we have not heard that the appropriate authorities of the government have taken any action."
He said, "The health directorate should address this irregularity. No one can collect extra money by putting people in such predicaments this way."
Ghulam said the national consumers' right protection directorate could also take action in this regard.
Meher-e-Khuda Dip, public relations officer at Labaidhospital, told The Business Standard, "A doctor's recommendation is needed for the Covid-19 test.That is why someone is being tested after seeing a doctor. There is a fee of Tk1,000 for this.
"Besides, a service charge of Tk300 is being taken, which is a small amount. Along with this, the fee of Tk3,500 fixed by the government is being taken."
Saiful Islam, director of Square Hospitals, told The Business Standard, "Doctorconsultation fee of Tk1,000 is being taken for Covid-19 test.Along with that, Tk3,500 set by the government is being taken."
Dr. Muzaherul Huq, former regional advisor for South Asia of the World Health Organisation, told The Business Standard, "The government has set a fee of Tk3,500 for Covid-19 test.No private hospital can charge more than that."
He said there were also allegations against private hospitals that they were conducting fewer tests. "Many patients went there but came back without getting tested."
"Immediate action must be taken against this irregularity," added Muzaherul.