The ex-servicemen fraternity of Tricity were a harried lot on Friday after they were told by Fortis Hospital Mohali that treatment will not be available from October 1 as the agreement between Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) and the hospital ended on Friday.

However, late on Friday, the hospital clarified that it will continue to offer treatment to ECHS card holders.

Earlier, veterans and their dependents who have been visiting Fortis Hospital Mohali were verbally told by the hospital staff that ECHS facilities will not be available with effect from October 1. Queries made by veterans revealed that the agreement between the hospital and ECHS was lapsing on September 30 and that it had not been renewed due to certain changes made in the terms of contract by ECHS.

The other major hospital in Tricity, Max Hospital, has already terminated its agreement with ECHS leaving the veterans dependent on Fortis for all major ailments.

HQs Western Command has reportedly been approached by many senior veterans to ask it to step in and make temporary arrangements for continuation of referral services at Fortis Hospital. This is the second time in the recent months that there has been an issue with ECHS and Fortis and earlier the hospital had remained dis-empaneled for a considerable period of time.

While no official comment was available from Fortis Hospital, sources there said that the hospital’s contract had not been renewed and that there was no problem from their end. “The hospital was not responsible for the discontinuation of services the last time it happened and it is not responsible this time too,” a source at Fortis said.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Lt Col SS Sohi (retd), president of Ex-Servicemen Grievances Cell, Mohali, said that there have been verbal communication to some veterans that the ECHS contract has not been renewed with Fortis and that there are huge pending bills.

“This can be due to mismanagement or due to shortage of funds allotted to ECHS by the government. But the fact is that 300 to 400 veterans visit Fortis daily and they are in danger of being denied quality medically services. We have taken up the matter with HQs Western Command and the Veterans Cell at Army HQs and have been assured that services will continue from October 1,” said Lt Col Sohi.

Many veterans said that they will be left high and dry if their treatment is stopped midway as many of them were being treated for critical illnesses. “A relative of mine is undergoing chemotherapy at Fortis hospital and is in a delicate state of health. How are we to suddenly look for an alternate place to get treatment for him especially since even Max Hospital has terminated its contract with ECHS,” said a retd officer on condition of anonymity.

The director ECHS, Chandimandir, was not available for comments and did not respond to phone calls and text messages. However, sources in Command HQs said that the Army Commander, Lt Gen Nav K Khanduri, had been apprised of the situation.

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