The Delhi government is considering bringing in a Bill to regulate private hospital services, along the lines of the Bills in Karnataka and West Bengal, sources said. The question of regulating private healthcare has weighed heavily on the Delhi government’s mind since Max Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, erroneously declared a newborn dead. The government had cancelled its licence, but the decision was stayed by the court of the Finance Commission.
“The government is looking at different ways in which it can regulate private healthcare. The open loot by these hospitals will not be tolerated, and although the Centre is attempting to scuttle our efforts, we will not tolerate them,” AAP MLA and spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said.
Among the measures being considered by the government, sources said, is the introduction of a regulatory Bill. After the incident at Max Hospital, the Delhi government had formed a nine-member committee to formulate norms, cap profit margins of private hospitals in the city, and recommend behavioural protocol for hospital staff.
The committee, headed by Delhi’s Director General of Health Services, will submit a report by the end of the month. The move comes after allegations of overcharging and negligence against four private hospitals in NCR. “After the report is submitted, depending on its contents, we will decide whether there is a need to bring legislative changes in order to regulate private healthcare,” a source said.
Earlier, Health Minister Satyendar Jain, when asked about the implementation of the Clinical Establishment Act passed by Parliament in Delhi, had said, “Single doctor-run clinics will not be covered under our law.”
Sources said the focus of the bill will be to address the issue of “private companies trying to maximise profits at the cost of increasing expenditure for patients”.
A Delhi government source said, “It is not illegal for private hospitals to make money. The government is not against that, but simply put, this can’t come at the cost of either the health of the citizen or his expenses. There need to be checks and balances. Other states have already brought such regulation.”
West Bengal has instituted a regulatory commission and Karnataka has amended and strengthened its 2007 regulation. The union health ministry has written to all states asking them to adopt its 2010 framework, which many have not done so far.