Millennium Post

Game-changer Health bill gets Governor's assent

Governor KN Tripathi on Thursday gave his assent to the game changer West Bengal Clinical Establishments ( Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, which will ensure that patients in the state are no longer at the mercy of private healthcare providers.

The Bill was unanimously passed in the Assembly on March 3. The Act empowers the state government to take punitive action against private hospitals who may be fined up to Rs 10 lakh for deficiency in service.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Governor had given his assent to the Bill and a notification in this regard would be issued on Friday. Members of the 11-member West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission will be announced shortly. The commission will be headed by a sitting or a retired High Court judge or a former chief secretary.

Under the Act, private health care establishments may be fined up to Rs 10 lakh for deficiency in service or functioning without a license. They may be fined up to Rs 5 lakhs for fudging documents. They are bound to give treatment to accident, acid attack and rape victims.

Tabling the bill in the Assembly, chief minister Mamata Banerjee who is also the health minister had said it would bring transparency and prevent unnecessary harassment of patients and their relatives. She had described the bill as historic and added that Bengal would now serve as a role model for other states.

An incident that had led the state government to formulate the Bill was the death of a road accident victim Sanjay Roy at SSKM hospital on February 24. Shortly after the accident on 16 February, he was admitted to Apollo Gleneagles Hospital. The hospital's bill reached a staggering Rs 7.23 lakh and the authorities had asked his spouse to deposit the fixed deposit receipt and deed of the house as security.

Infuriated over the incident Mamata Banerjee held a meeting in Town Hall where representatives of all the big hospitals were present. The chief secretary Basudeb Bandopadhyay, home secretary Malay Dey and additional chief secretary health RS Shukla were also present at the meeting. Banerjee had interacted with the representatives of the private hospitals and announced that the state government would bring a Bill to control private hospitals in the state.

After the Bill was passed in the Assembly, the chief minister had said that the state government was not against the private hospitals but they should be careful while preparing bills of patients and ensure that there was transparency.

Tough Norms

    1. Hospitals can fined up to Rs 10 lakh for deficiency in service
    2. Rs 5 lakh fine for fudging documents
    3. No overcharging patients or inflating bills
    4. 11-member regulatory commission to be named soon
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