Rawalpindi - A large number of patients and their attendants on Friday protested against the administration of Holy Family Hospital (HFH) for collecting Rs 3,000 per wheelchair as security fee before providing the wheelchairs to them at Outdoor Patient Department (OPD).

They demanded of the hospital administration to withdraw the unprecedented decision of collecting such a huge amount from poor patients and their attendants on the pretext of security fee.

A huge-sized placard has been displayed outside the OPD, ordering the staff to receive Rs 3,000 as security fee from the patients and attendants before giving them wheelchairs.

However, the patients and their attendants vehemently denounced the decision of the hospital administration and termed it a cruel step.

Farhat Salim, a lady from Sadiqabad who had brought her old father-in-law suffering from heart disease for medical check-up in OPD, told The Nation that the staff deputed outside OPD at Wheelchair Counter asked her to deposit Rs 3000 as security fee when she tried to hold a wheelchair to take her father-in-law to a doctor’s room. She said that the staff refused to give her wheelchair when she denied paying them security fee. “I requested them to take my CNIC but all in vain,” she added.

She alleged that the staff misbehaved with her. “I then took my old father-in-law to doctor’s room with great difficulty. My father-in-law is too weak to walk,” she said.

Mehwish Kausar, another attendant of a 70-year-old female patient who arrived from Chakwal, was of the view that the hospital staff did not allow her to get a wheelchair and asked her to deposit Rs 3,000 as security fee.

This is injustice and anti-poor step of the hospital administration, she said and added, “If I had Rs 3,000, I would have taken my patient to some best doctor at his private clinic instead of coming to Rawalpindi.”

Many other patients and attendants also protested against the decision of the HFH administration and demanded of chief minister and secretary health Punjab to take notice of the issue in better interest of the poor.

Hospital staffers, however, said that the security was sought as some attendants and patients stole the wheelchairs and the hospital administration had to bear the loss.

A senior doctor was of view that the step was taken to make sure that the patients and attendants returned the wheelchairs at the point from where they got them.

He said that many people left the wheelchairs unattended wherever they wanted. “We have not extra staff to collect the wheelchairs from the hospital,” he said.

Medical Superintendent HFH Dr Arshad Ali Sabir did not attend his cellphone when contacted for knowing his version about the decision.”