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West Bengal government introduces Bill to regulate private hospitals

Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Friday passed the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017.

“This Bill aims at bringing transparency, ending harassment of patients and taking steps to stop medical negligence,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who holds the health portfolio, said while presenting the Bill in the Assembly.

“Some hospitals are overcharging patients, making exaggerated bills. The greed is crossing all limits. When the limits of patience are broken, steps have to be taken,” added Banerjee.

According to the Bill, licenses can be revoked in case a medical institution refuses to provide preliminary medical aid to victims of a road accident, sudden calamities, rape and acid attack notwithstanding their financial condition.

Also, no person can be denied life-saving medical treatment irrespective of one’s financial condition. Besides, hospitals have been mandated to release the dead body of patients even if the next of the kin is not able to settle the dues.

However, the medical institution can later recover the charges, reports Business Standard.

Private hospitals and nursing homes will also risk paying a compensation of up to Rs 10 lakh for negligence on their part if it results in the patient’s death.

The Bill notes, “Every clinical establishment shall strictly follow the fixed rates and charges including package rates for investigation, bed charges, operation theatre procedures, intensive care, ventilation, implants, consultation and similar tests and procedures, and any additional treatment or procedure shall not attract additional charges”.

The Bill also directs hospitals having more than 100 beds to set up fair price medicine shops and diagnostic centres.

Interestingly, the Bill has mandated all private hospitals, which has been set up on government land or enjoys other facility, to compulsorily provide free treatment to 20 per cent outdoor patients and 10 per cent indoor patients as part of their corporate social responsibility.

The government is going to set up a regulatory commission, which has the power to cancel licenses and impose a penalty of up to Rs 50 lakh, headed by either a high court Judge or chief secretary of the state. The commission will regulate and monitor the enforcement of the conditions listed in the Bill.

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