News : Helpline Gets 1,750 Panic Calls in 5 Days
Mumbai, India, Nov 19, 2016 -- Left with no channels to seek clarity on demonetisation, panic-stricken people flooded the state's 108 helpline that was temporarily told to attend to complaints of cheque payment refusals by private hospitals. Since the beginning of the week, the helpline received 1,750 calls, of which merely 15% were related to healthcare grievances.
Nearly 1,500 calls were from people who wanted to know what will happen to their cash reserve, if banks will accept old notes, or if Rs500 notes will come back into circulation. People also wanted the helpline to accept complaints against petrol pumps and chemists. The helpline team also counselled some people, who had to be reassured that their savings would not become illegal.
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"The calls reduced only on Tuesday, after we started informing people that the helpline was only meant to solve health-related queries," said an executive from BVG India, which runs the helpline in partnership with the state government. The helpline was meant for the ambulance-on-call service
The executive said overall, there were 273 calls, where people complained that private hospitals were reluctant to accept cheques. About 45 grievances were against city hospitals. Dr Satish Pawar, head of Directorate of Health Services (DHS), said those calls were resolved after the state told the hospitals to accept cheques. Most calls were against hospitals from urban areas.
An executive from the call centre said most calls were escalated to civic surgeons and district health officers who intervened with local hospitals and nursing homes and resolved them. Pawar said hospitals cannot refuse emergency care to any patient. "If there are repeated complaints against any hospital, we may cancel their registration," he said.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, November 22, 2016
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