While investment by private hospitals in certain fields is a choice largely driven by profit, healthcare activists feel growth of the private sector should be regulated to ensure balanced investment in essential healthcare services.
“A policy which plans the total number of beds required in the city and their distribution according to speciality and geography will lead to better healthcare services,” said Dr Wasundhara Joshi, executive director, Sneha, a public health NGO.
State health minister Suresh Shetty said the Union government has proposed the Clinical Establishment Bill to bring private healthcare facilities under the government’s radar. “Though the proposed bill is not intended to control prices of medical services, the government can ensure that hospitals perform minimum social obligations,” said Shetty.
The current legislation, under the Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act, is responsible for registering nursing homes. “However, this is simply a procedural act,” said Shetty.
The city’s expanding suburbs are witnessing a lack of certain medical services. Private hospitals are investing more in surgical specialties and not medical specialties, as the former are more profitable, believe experts. “Procedures such as angioplasties, bypass, joint replacements and laparoscopic surgeries have a high patient turnover for each bed and less hospitalisation,” said Dr Hasmukh Rawat, head of cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Mulund.
“There are huge returns in cardiac surgeries and there is high investment happening in this area. However, healthcare should also be driven by necessity and not just market,” said Dr Sanjay Oak, who has been a director of major civic hospitals.