‘Amend new Bengal health regulatory bill to include government hospitals’

Kolkata, March 3 (IANS) Welcoming the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017 for the “pro-patient” culpable homicide charge for gross medical negligence, People for Better Treatment (PBT) on Friday called for an amendment to the bill to include government hospitals as well under its ambit, failing which the organisation would legally challenge the bill.

“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.

“Unless this Bill is amended to include all hsopitals, government and private, PBT will challenge this Bill through an appropriate PIL before a court of law,” it said.

PBT expressed skepticism on the implementation of the new rules and questioned whether the clamour by the Mamata Banerjee government is a “political gimmick.”

It said the proposed bill has failed to address the burning problems faced by vast majority of Bengal residents who are treated at government hospitals because its not applicable to state-run establushments.

According to R. Venkatesh, Zonal Director-East, Narayana Health, the bill is a step in the “right direction” to introduce Atransparency, trust and accountability into the medi-care system. The Health Regulatory Commission provides a level playing field to both patients and healthcare institutions

“It will help add a human touch and ensure transparent functioning of the clinical establishments and facilitate efficient Adelivery of healthcare services. We hope that the views of the key stakeholders are taken into account while determining the regulations with regard to fixing of rates or charges for treatment,” R Venkatesh said in a statement.

“We welcome the fact that the Bill also protects hospital property and medical staff by urging patients and their families to seek redressal from the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission. In the long term, the Bill will enhance clear communication and delivery,” Venkatesh said.

The West Bengal Assembly on Friday passed a bill to regulate functioning of private health facilities, providing for up to three year jail terms and trials under the IPC for offenders and fines up to Rs 50 lakh in case of death of patients due to medical negligence.