The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the financial burden on private hospitals, the managements have said. Apart from medical consumables such as masks, they said that the cost of oxygen cylinders and salaries to employees have increased by 100% to 200%.

Though the demand for oxygen cylinders has increased at the hospitals where COVID-19 patients are admitted, other hospitals which perform surgeries on non-COVID patients also need the cylinders.

CEO of Continental Hospitals Rahul Medakkar said the demand for oxygen cylinders at their facility, which treats COVID patients, has increased by over 200% after the pandemic broke out. “Earlier, a cylinder used to cost ₹160. Now, they are available for ₹250-350. We buy it regardless of the cost so that there is no delay in treatment,” Dr Medakkar said.

Vice-president of Telangana Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (THANA), V. Rakesh also agreed that cost of the product has increased. “The staff are wary of working in this pandemic. Some hospitals are ready to pay 100% to 200% more salary. So we also have to pay high salaries to our employees. A senior technician who used to be paid around ₹10,000 per month is now paid ₹30,000. Besides, we assure to take care if they get COVID-19,” Dr Kumar said.

Human resources dearer

Dr Medakkar said the cost of human resources has also gone up by 50% because of risk allowance or incentives being factored in.

The THANA vice-president said that the cost of medical consumables has shot up too. He said a surgical mask which used to cost ₹1 is now being sold at ₹2.50. “To sum it up, a product which was earlier bought at ₹1 is now bought at ₹3. Smaller hospitals are not able to function as the number of patients too has come down,” he said.

The Continental Hospitals CEO said unless a patient seeks special facilities like a suite, they charge according to ceiling prices for COVID-19 treatment as announced by the State government.

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