Thinley Namgay    

Patients and attendants at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Thimphu are crying foul over the higher prices for essentials in shops at the hospital.

A 56-year-old pneumonia patient discharged from the hospital a few days ago said shop owners have increased the price of essentials like mineral water.

He said the food quality in the hospital is poor and many people cannot even afford biscuits because of the price hike. “We are not allowed to bring food in from outside.”

He explained that the hospital management allowed food once a day, but it hasn’t been possible to take advantage of the opportunity because of the lockdown.

Another patient said shops are charging more than Nu 240 for a carton of mineral water when the price outside is just Nu 120.

As a gout patient, he said he cannot eat the food in the hospital, which is mostly potato curry and dhal. “We cannot bring food, and the shops are also charging a high price. Poor people like us have to stay hungry most of the time.”

An official from the hospital management said they don’t have any control over the price hike.

The official said there is no agreement between the shop owners and the hospital’s management to sell the things at a quotation rate like with other entities.  “People should complain to the Office of Consumer Protection.”

He, however, said people could drink water from the hospital.