Monday, 22 October, 2018

West Bengal assembly passes bill to regulate private hospitals in state

Bengal passes bill for single window service in agricultural marketing The legislation would also bolster inter-state trade and commerce with regard to agricultural produce and enable the peasants to sell it nationally
Melissa Porter | 04 March, 2017, 01:49

In an attempt to curb "unethical" practices in private healthcare institutes, the government Friday passed West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017.

Private healthcare institutes can not refuse admission and treatment in emergency cases such as acid attack, rape and accident victims.

The Bill aims to regulate the private hospitals and bring in transparencyin the manner in which they operate. "If tests are conducted in this way, it would become risky for anybody", the Chief Minister said.

"By providing complete exemption of any liability for government hospitals, this bill discriminates patients for their socio-economic condition in candid violation of Article 14 of Constitution that guarantees equality for all citizens of India", the organisation said in a statement.

According to the provision of the bill, if it is found that any patient died due to the negligence of the hospital authorities, a fine to the tune of Rs 10 lakh would have to be paid by the authorities to the relatives of the deceased within six months.

"Private hospitals created such a situation that I was forced to bring this Bill".

Bill, 2017, is likely to be tabled in the assembly tomorrow.

Last week after members of patient party had vandalised Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI) over excess billing and harassment by hospital officials, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had convened a meeting at Town Hall which was attended by representatives from various private hospitals, nursing homes and diagnostic centres.

At a meeting with representatives of Kolkata's private hospitals on 22 February, the chief minister had announced that the existing Clinical Establishments Act would be replaced and stronger provisions for punishment incorporated in the new law. "Some hospitals are overcharging patients, making exaggerated bills. I think there must be control at some point". "We never heard of things like these".

The high-powered commission - to be headed by a sitting or former judge, and having the status of a civil court - is empowered to summon both parties in case of a dispute and examine the case before passing an order.

Under the new law, hospitals must "strictly follow fixed rates" for clinical investigations and facilities, and in the event of any complication requiring a change in course of treatment, hospitals will not be allowed to charge anything extra.

The Bill includes various degrees of penal measures against offending private healthcare providers and introduces a bunch of new regulations like not denying treatments to accident, rape, acid and disaster victims, even if they are unable to pay for it.

Hospitals have to start e-prescriptions and keep online medical records.