7 years on, Clinical Act hangs in balance

CHANDIGARH: The state government may be ready with another draft of the Clinical Establishment Act but the previous draft has been hanging fire for the past seven years.

7 years on, Clinical Act hangs in balance

editorial@tribune.com

Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16

The state government may be ready with another draft of the Clinical Establishment Act but the previous draft has been hanging fire for the past seven years. 

The Union Government had enacted the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010, with an aim to regulate the functioning of private hospitals in the country. It was adopted by several states but the then Punjab Government decided to draft its own Act instead. In 2012, it constituted a drafting committee. 

However, due to a powerful lobby of private healthcare practitioners, the draft was never accepted. 

Now once again, a powerful body of private doctors is up in arms against the Act. 

After a series of meetings, the committee headed by Dr Rajesh Kumar, former head, School of Public Health, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, submitted the draft of the bill to the state government in 2013.

The draft had important provisions like every private or government hospital has to display the services it offers and mention the fee it charges for all services. Besides, it was proposed that private hospitals should get themselves registered.  However, the draft was neither cleared by the Cabinet nor was it taken to the Assembly. Members of the committee had publicly said that the move regarding the Act was scuttled by a lobby of big corporate hospitals.

Following that, after the formation of the government in 2017, then Health Minister Brahm Mohindra had also announced to implement the Act but failed to do anything. 

Last week, the state government once again posted the draft bill online and asked for feedback. But private doctors’ body Indian Medical Association has already started opposing the move. 

Dr Amandeep Aggarwal, chairman, Action Committee-cum-Legal Cell of IMA’s Punjab chapter, said the successive governments had failed to build up medical infrastructure and the outcome was that the private sector was catering to more than 80 per cent of the population. “Through this Act, the government is trying to shift its responsibility on private doctors without extending any facility to them. How can government encroach upon the right to livelihood?” he asked. 

Dr Pyara Lal Garg, former Registrar of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot — who was also a member of the drafting committee seven years back — says the new draft is also likely to meet the same fate as the earlier one. He says at present, there is not much transparency in fees being charged by private hospitals and there is lack of quality control but the Act could bring some transparency. 

Meanwhile, the government seems to have already started taking a U-turn on the issue as Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Saturday assured an IMA delegation that their genuine demands would be incorporated. He said a special meeting would be held with Punjab Medical Association on November 25.

Lobby of big hospitals ‘at play’

  • The Centre had enacted the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010, to regulate the functioning of private hospitals. It was adopted by several states but the then Punjab Govt decided to draft its own Act instead 
  • The drafting committee submitted the first draft in 2012 but it was never accepted 
  • Panel members had publicly said the move was scuttled by a lobby of big corporate hospitals 
  • Last week, the state once again posted the draft Bill online. But, the IMA is already opposing the move 

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