M A I N   N E W S

Bill to regulate clinics okayed
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 28
The government today approved a Bill to bring all clinics in the country under one law so as to facilitate creation of a “national registry” and boost health services in the country.

“This is a path-breaking measure that has been in the pipeline for long. It will ensure better health service,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Bill, 2010, while briefing mediapersons after the Cabinet meeting.

The Bill was cleared at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It is likely to be introduced in the Budget session of Parliament, beginning February 22.

“The main purpose of the law is to provide a legislative framework for the registration and regulation of clinical establishments in the country and also to improve the quality of health services through the National Council for Standards by prescribing minimum standards of facilities and services which may be provided by them,” Soni said.

“This would permit categorisation and classification of different clinical establishments, depending on their geographical location as well as services offered. It will also initiate the process for the creation of a national registry of clinical establishments,” she added. “The Bill will ensure elimination of fraudulent practices,” Soni said.

Experts said once Parliament passed the Bill, doctors and hospitals would not be able to turn away victims of road accidents and other emergencies on the plea that these were “medico-legal cases” that they were not authorised to treat.

The Bill would apply to all clinical establishments, including those with a single doctor and without any beds. It would, however, not apply to the Armed Forces Medical Service since these had their own set patterns in place.

Once approved by Parliament, the Bill would be initially applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim and all union territories.

“It is expected that other states will also adopt the legislation,” Soni said.

Earlier in the day, experts asked the government to increase the expenditure on health facilities in the country. “India spends just 1 per cent of the GDP on health, which is the lowest, compared to that spent by some of the poorest countries in the world,” said NJ Kurien, a former member of the Planning Commission. Speaking at the National Consultation on the Draft National Health Bill here, Kurien said the UPA government had promised in 2004 to improve health infrastructure in the country. “In its two terms of governance, there has been just 0.2 per cent increase in health infrastructure,” he added.



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