Updated: March 14, 2017 12:05:14 am
Facing tough questions over recent reports of child trafficking and negligence in medical establishments, the Mamata Banerjee-led government has now instructed the police to conduct a state-wide drive to gather information about all about private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics operating in their jurisdiction.
The move comes at a time when the state CID and police have unearthed a series of infant trafficking rings in Jalpaiguri, South-24 Parganas and North-24 Parganas, wherein private hospitals have been involved in the trafficking and sale of babies.
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Previously, the state government had introduced the proposed Clinical Establishment Bill 2017 in a bid to bring transparency in the functioning of private hospitals and “prevent medical negligence”.
However, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had strongly objected to the Bill that holds doctors accountable for “offences not committed by them” and had written to the Governor demanding a debate and deliberation.
“Hospitals will be asked to submit documentation regarding their registration, licenses, staff details including those of doctors and medical equipment,” said a senior police officer. According to the state government, the idea behind the drive is to “collect information” about the private medical industry and identify institutions which, “in the name of practicing medicine” have been extorting money from the poor and needy.
None of this has gone down well with the IMA, which has already made their objections known.
Previously, K K Agarwal, president of the IMA, had said, “It was unanimously decided that we will oppose the Bill and ask the Governor not to pass it. We have also agreed on the need for modifications to the Bill. Even though the IMA is in favour of transparency, accountability and fairness, we believe this bill is not fair to doctors. While they have been made liable to be charged under criminal laws, there is no provision to act against clinical establishments. But more often hospitals are responsible for lapses.”
One of the main objections raised regarding the state government’s drive was exclusion of government hospitals from the state’s scrutiny. “We have mentioned in the letter that doctors should be exempted from the Consumer Protection Act, which now makes them liable for stiff penalties. Since we now have a new set of laws, it makes no sense to have a previous law in effect. A single-window redressal system should be introduced which will make it easier, fairer and transparent,” added Agarwal.
The IMA will be protesting regarding the issue on March 14. They are also considering legal options including filing a PIL in the Supreme Court.
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