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Pvt health players get Mamata dressing down for overcharging

The West Bengal government on Wednesday said it has decided to set up a Health Regulatory Commission to monitor the functioning of private hospitals and nursing homes in and around the city.

The decision to form the Commission was taken following complaints of alleged over-charging of patients and negligence in their treatment.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced this after over an hour-long meeting with the representatives of top private hospitals and nursing homes situated in and around the city.

"We have decided to set up a West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission which will be monitoring the billing and performance of private hospitals and nursing homes," she said.

The meeting was called by Banerjee, who is also the Health Minister, after a number of complaints poured in at the health department from different sections, including top leaders and MLAs, alleging that private hospitals and nursing homes were charging patients exorbitantly and negligent in the treatment.

A bill in this regard would be placed in the Assembly on March 3 during the next session, Banerjee also announced.

The Commission will have 10-members, comprising a former chief justice, health experts, principal secretary of the Health Department, representatives of hospitals and patients, who are the consumers, Banerjee said.

The regulatory commission will submit its report to the chief minister every month, she added.

The state was already planning to amend the West Bengal Clinical Act, the Chief Minister said, adding it should be made "strong" and the amendment would be brought on March 3 in the Assembly.

"People must keep this in mind that the state government will extend full support to those doing good work but it will take action against those who are not performing well," she said.

In the meeting, Banerjee also pulled up the representatives of top private medical facilities and held them responsible for charging patients excessively, negligence in treatment, keeping patients in ICUs and on ventilators for long periods without justification and not releasing dead bodies if the bills were not settled.

Banerjee said that she was going through a report of a survey conducted by the Assembly on registered medical facilities in the state out of which 370 were from the city.

"The survey was conducted on 942 nursing homes and 70 of them were served show-cause notices. Licences of 33 were cancelled. We have received complaints of negligence by the private hospitals and they were established," she said.

"Hospitals here are charging exorbitantly. Why will that happen? Treatment of patients is not a business. It cannot even try to derive full profit from it. You have to look at it from a humanitarian ground," she observed.

Bringing in transparency in the billing system and initiating a e-record and e-prescription for patients by private hospitals and nursing homes was a must and they should not refuse treatment to patients arriving in emergency units.

Hospital and nursing home authorities should not hold on to dead bodies of patients because bills were not settled, she said, adding that ventilation of a patient will be done following the protocol besides initiating a e-record of patients.

She also warned that child trafficking rackets would be finished and would not allow kidney-sale rackets to thrive in the state.

"Hospitals must follow the Organ Transplant Act. I am not going to allow any child trafficking racket or kidney-sale racket operate from here," she said. She advised private hospitals and nursing homes to set up fair price medical stores as well as diagnostic centres to cater to people with poor economic background.

The chief minister disapproved of the tendency to destroy public and private properties during riots, unrest or violent political movements and referred the West Bengal Maintenance of Public order (amendment) Bill 2017 to deal with it.

She also said that people indulging in vandalism during riots or agitations would have to compensate for the damage to property.
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