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Contracting out of diet services, West Bengal
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Subject Area="Public / private partnership (including NGOs)." Objective="Improved hospital services."
Details for Reform Option "Contracting out of diet services, West Bengal"

Background: West Bengal Department of Health and Family Welfare has entered into a number of agreements with the private sector and NGOs to provide specific services to improve the quality of health care being given in the state. Action: Meal preparation at all Government hospitals has been contracted out, mainly to women’s cooperatives and women’s Self Help Groups, and a diet chart prepared with improved nutritional content. Existing manpower was redeployed in other vacant posts. Meals are provided free of cost to below poverty line (BPL) patients and subsidised at 50% of cost to those in paying beds. Tenders are awarded by the executive committees of the District Health and Family Welfare Societies. Results: No evaluation has yet been made of this scheme but anecdotal evidence suggests that patient satisfaction has definitely increased.

Cost Government subsidy remains the same as before. Meal rate fixed at INR 28.50 per patient per day.
Place All Government hospitals in West Bengal since November 2001.
Time Frame As required for selection of private contractor and completion of official formalities -approximately five months to issue the Government order and three months for the tender selection process. The actual tendering procedure was done by the Institution at the local level. The Superintendents/ Principals of the institutions had to deal with local problems before they could implement the process successfully and this time again varies between 1-6 months.

Cost effective: The hospital can select the best value-for-money tender and the contractor uses existing kitchen facilities. Quality: Improvement in quality of food due to better regulation and higher expectations.


None reported.


Government Order. Availability of catering agencies that can provide an improved and cost-effective service.

Who needs to be consulted

Officials of the State Health Departments; Principal of medical colleges & hospitals; Chief Medical Officers.



Has been working for the last three years.

Chances of Replication

No problems perceived with replicating this scheme.


The West Bengal Health & Family Welfare Department has brought out a policy document on ‘Health Sector Reform’ and developed a ‘Strategic Framework’ which has dealt at length on partnership with the private sector and NGOs. It has developed a ‘Draft policy for Public Private Partnership in the Health Sector’ which is available on their website for public feedback. See PROD entry on “Establishing a Public Private Partnership Policy, West Bengal”.


Submitted By

Clare Kitchen, Research Consultant, ECTA, New Delhi. November 2004.

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