The state unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) will organise a convention on March 10 against the West Bengal Clinical Establishment (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill, 2017. According to sources, major private hospitals in Kolkata believe the Bill is “unfair” and that doctors would be reluctant to take up new cases, fearing action from enforcement agencies.
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A statement issued by IMA said: “It is a misuse of state power. To include medical negligence under criminal jurisprudence is unjust.” However, the IMA, according to insiders, is dominated by those who are aligned with the Trinamool Congress (TMC). This is why although there is opposition to the Bill, they are not vocal about it, the source added.
The convention will attempt to influence the government to either repeal the Bill or nationalise the entire healthcare sector rather than limiting it to private hospitals, insiders said. Some believe the government is not entitled to prescribe protocols for treatment, which should be mandate of the treating doctor.
“There is no clarity in the Bill. It’s visible that it was drafted in a hurried manner. A Bill needs at least six months of thorough study, must be discussed in Cabinet and then proposed. This was not followed,” said Dr R D Dubey, president of IMA (South Kolkata branch). “Why does the Bill cover only the private sector? Around 90 per cent of negligence cases are reported from government hospital. Some provisions are not practical. If government wants a hospital to discharge patient without full payment, then in that case a statutory body should take the responsibility to bear the cost. This Bill can be misused.”
While Section 1 (4) of the Bill excludes government and semi-government healthcare institutes from its purview, the Central Clinical Establishment Act includes government facilities as well, sources pointed out.