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Govt softens stand on regulating hospitals, forms 10-member joint panel with IMA

Draft of the bill mandated private hospitals to follow fixed rates and charges including ‘package rates’ for investigation; committee given a month to propose new suggestions
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By Ravinder Vasudeva
PUBLISHED ON NOV 27, 2019 12:10 AM IST

Chandigarh Bowing to pressure from the Punjab chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), the state government has softened its stand on introducing the ‘Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act’. Now, a 10-member joint committee of the health department and the IMA will give new suggestions for the draft bill within a month. Both will have five members on the committee with special secretary health, Amarinder Kaur Brar, appointed as the chairperson.

The previous draft had made it mandatory for private hospitals to follow a minimum standard of accommodation to be fixed by the department and engage a a specified minimum number of registered medical practitioners, nurses, paramedical staff, and other categories of employees with set qualification. Sources said most of these provisions, regulatory in nature, were now likely to be diluted.

It was also made mandatory for every clinical establishment to strictly follow fixed rates and charges including the ‘package rates’ for investigation, bed charges, operation theatre procedures, intensive care, ventilation, implants, consultation and similar tests and procedures.

“Any additional treatment or procedure shall not attract additional charges over and above such fixed rates and charges including the package rates,” the proposals said.

The 10-member committee was formed after a delegation of the IMA that its president (elect) Dr Navjot Dahiya and outgoing president Dr Yogesh Sood met state health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Monday evening. After the meeting, the minister announced the formation of the committee.

“The IMA delegation raised some apprehensions about this bill. The government is clear that the bill will come into existence, but at the same time, we don’t want genuine doctors to feel unnecessary pinch. The committee will look into all aspects and give suggestions,” health minister told HT. HT has also learnt that at the meeting with the minister, the IMA stuck to its stand and contested the formation of this bill, saying that Punjab did not need the bill at all as there were already more than 32 regulations governing hospitals.

The health minister is learnt to have told the IMA that once the new proposed draft is final, he will call a meeting of all stakeholder departments that issue no-objection certificates (NOCs) to open a private hospital. “A mechanism will be chalked out to avoid unnecessary harassment that private clinics face,” Sidhu told the IMA delegation.

To counter the IMA’s claim that patients were not being harassed in the private hospitals, the health minister, took names of big private hospitals in Mohali against which a series of complaints have appeared in the recent past.

Dahiya claimed that he told the minister, “Before coming to power, the Congress promised to regularise nursing homes working in residential areas. Nothing happened in that direction. Now, the government wants us to provide all facilities as per new regulations in those very buildings. How can any doctor do that in such an uncertain situation, where he is not sure if his building is going to remain or not?”

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