In a game-changing stroke, West Bengal Clinical Establishment (Registration, Regulation, and Transparency) Bill, 2017 got the approval from Raj Bhavan before it becomes an Act. This bill 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.
West Bengal Governor KN Tripathi put his seal on the bill on Thursday, the development coming just two days before a team of Indian Medical Association doctors from Delhi are scheduled to meet him to seek its scrapping. Soon after the Governor's signature, the state government showed rare alacrity and set up the 11-member West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission (as provided in the bill) that will arbitrate complaints of medical negligence filed under the act. This event has prompted a sharp reaction from the Indian Medical Association (IMA). "We must now study the legal provisions and are seriously considering moving court. Our legal experts will be consulted on Friday and we hope we will be able to decide by the end of the week," said K K Aggarwal, national president of IMA.
What triggered the formulation of this Bill is the death of a road accident victim Sanjay Roy at SSKM hospital on February 24. Shortly after the accident on February 16, 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. As reported by Millennium Post on March 17, 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 describes the bill as historic and added that Bengal would now serve as a role model for other states.