Kolkata, March 5: In order to regulate the private hospitals and bring in more transparency in West Bengal the assembly passed a new bill which covers regarding charge for clinical procedures and tests.West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, the state will set up a regulatory commission to oversee private healthcare facilities, deciding for them what they charge and deal with complaints from can people receiving treatment.
“The state government is of the view that healthcare service is not a commercial proposition; it is a service which should be delivered with humility and human touch,” the law proclaims as its stated objective. The law it replaces, which dates back to 2010, is not adequate, “particularly with regard to regulating charges and rates claimed by clinical establishments”. Charges levied by private hospitals should cover costs and generate only a “decent surplus”, the state government said on Friday.
“If the aim is to improve patient experience, why were government hospitals exempted,” asked the owner of a leading hospital in Kolkata, requesting anonymity. “We agree there should be a forum for patients to seek redress, but to have a regulatory commission akin to the one in the power sector is infeasible for hospitals.”
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. Curbs have been imposed on measures to realize dues from patients with the law saying that hospitals cannot delay the release of a deceased patient even if the family cannot pay up immediately. The law also says victims of accidents will have to be provided care even if he or she cannot immediately pay for it.
The law reiterates hospitals that received land from the state government will have to provide free treatment to one in five outdoor patients, and one in 10 patients admitted to the hospital. The regulatory commission, which will conduct surprise and routine checks on internal functioning of hospitals, will have the authority to attach establishments that are found to be non-compliant and force them to immediately wind down operations.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee indicated she would soon meet heads of private educational institutions and may introduce new regulations to control them.