Health Minister issues instructions to start free treatment in ER
Health Minister Adel al-Adawy - YOUM7/Amr Mostafa

CAIRO: Minister of Health Adel al-Adawy issued Tuesday executive rules to implement Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab’s decision which orders private and public hospitals to provide free medical treatment for emergency cases, Youm7 reported Wednesday.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab issued on July 3, the decision according to the provisions of Law No. 51 for 1981 adding that according to the new law, the treatment is free for the first 48 hours during which hospitals are required to contact the family of the patient.

Many doctors at private and public hospital stated last July that they cannot implement the decision due to the lack of executive rules and that public hospitals do not have the capabilities to receive these patients.

During a meeting on Tuesday between the ER team at the Ministry of Health, the head of the institutions and sectors affiliated with the health ministry and the heads of the hospitals that receive emergency cases often, al-Adawy asserted that doctors at the ER should treat the patient and then send them to an internal department. In case their condition is unstable after 48 hours, doctors should re-check on their status.

After the first 48 hours, patients at private hospitals would be given two options, said Mahlab; they would either stay and pay treatment expenses or be transferred to the nearest public hospital.

Adawy said Tuesday that the ambulances are committed to move the patient to the nearest public hospital, in case they couldn’t find a hospital within a 5-kilometer radius, they should move them to the nearest hospital even if it is private hospital.

The decision stated that allocations of the state’s general budget would cover the treatment expenses and that a patient is not to be escorted to another hospital before informing the regional governmental health center.

A number of hospitals fell under scrutiny in June, after a victim of a brutal sexual assault was refused admission because she could not pay upfront for treatment.

According to the decision, if anyone didn’t commit to the terms of the decision of the prime minister and the health minister, they will be punished according to article 10 and 11 of No. 51 for 1981, al-Adawy said on Tuesday.

The Doctors Syndicate issued a statement early July stating that the decision cannot be achieved as public hospitals don’t have the capabilities to receive all these cases and provide them with the necessary treatment, reported Youm7.

According to el-Badil newspaper, a doctor at the ER of Dar Al Fouad public hospital Emad Abdel Hameed said that Adawy’s decision cannot be implemented because “the hospitals will not accept this loss … for example, the hospital could lose up to 50 thousand EGP in 48 hours.”

He added that it is hard to apply such a decision because there is no guarantee that the hospital will be compensated for the amount of money they spend on treating the patient.

The head of Sharqia ambulance Fekri Tantawy told Youm7 on July 17, that private hospitals refused receiving any case because they hadn’t received the “instructions of implementing the decision.”

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