All private hospitals and nursing homes in West Bengal will have to reserve at least 10 beds for treating below poverty line (BPL) patients for free. The state government will shortly amend its laws to put this plan in place.
Private hospitals take many concessions and advantages from the state government. At the same time, they also have to extend some services to the common man.
“We are going to apply norms in order to compel private hospitals to provide some services. It is nothing but an effort of the state government to extend healthcare services to everybody,” said Dr Nirmal Maji, president, West Bengal Medical Council. Maji is also the MLA from Uluberia South.
“The bill of Medical Establishment Act will be amended to accommodate such a provision,” said a senior officer of the state health department.
On December 15, a meeting was held at Sasthya Bhavan, the headquarters of state the health department, where discussions were held on this issue. In the meeting, minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacherjee, Maji and principal secretary of the health department Malay Dey were present.
Prominent health activists welcomed the proposal but added a vital rider. “Certainly, it is a good initiative. But there should be a monitoring committee that will check whether people from remote areas are really getting the benefits. Many hospitals tend to admit their staff and say that no bed is available,” said D. Ashis, secretary, Hatkhola Medical Bank.
There are a lot of private hospitals across the state that assures the government that they would provide free medical services to the needy. This is usually done before concessions – mainly land – are wrested from the state government. But later, most of them do not adhere to their promise.