Owing to Covid-19, Punjab’s Clinical Establishment Act may finally see light of day

Private doctors’ lobby has been scuttling the move for past eight years

Owing to Covid-19, Punjab’s Clinical Establishment Act may finally see light of day

Vishav Bharti

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9

The coronavirus breakout may end Punjab’s wait to get the Clinical Establishment Act as the government is planning to bring an ordinance to end the plunder by private doctors.

The draft of the act has been hanging fire in the state for the past eight years.

According to sources, the state government is planning to bring an ordinance, ‘the Punjab Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation & Transparency) Act, 2019’, in the cabinet meeting slated for Friday.

The Chief Minister has announced that it is not acceptable that the way private doctors have shut down the OPDs. He said they would cancel licences of all the clinics and doctors, who have refused to give services in these testing times. The CM also confirmed in a TV interview that the government would bring in the ordinance regarding the act on Saturday.

Interestingly, with a view to regulating the functioning of private hospitals in the country, the Centre had enacted the Clinical Establishment Act, 2010, which was adopted by several states. But instead of adopting the same act, the then Punjab government decided to draft its own act and in 2012 constituted a Clinical Establishment Act Drafting Committee.

However, thanks to the powerful lobby of the private health care practitioners, the draft was never accepted.

After a series of meetings, the committee headed by Dr Rajesh Kumar, former head, School of Public Health, the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, 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 will also mention the fee it charges for all the services. Besides, it was also proposed to make it mandatory for all private hospitals to get themselves registered.

However, the draft was neither cleared by the cabinet nor it was taken to the Assembly. The members of the committee had publicly said that the draft of the move regarding the act was scuttled by the lobby of big corporate hospitals.

After formation of the current government in 2017, the then health Minister Braham Mohindra had also announced to implement the act but he also failed to do anything.

In November last year, the state government once again posted draft of the bill on its website and had asked for feedback.  But once again, the powerful body of private doctors was successful in scuttling the move. Soon after that, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu assured an IMA delegation that all their genuine demands would be incorporated before finalising any decision. But the act could never see the light of day.

 Provisions of the act

* Mandatory for all private hospitals to get themselves registered

* Private or government hospital has to display the services it offers

* Display the fee it charges for all the services

* Every hospital with more than 100 beds to set up Fair Price Medicine Shop and Fair Price Diagnostic Centre

* Free treatment to 20 per cent of Outdoor Patient Department patients and 10 per cent of Indoor Patient Department patients

 

 

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