Health activists and civil society organisations have commended the state health minister’s decision to set up a multi–stakeholder committee to formulate the Maharashtra Clinical Establishment Act and pass it in the next budget assembly session in February–March 2014.
More than 80% of the patients in the state seek care in private hospitals and clinics. However, the private health sector is often criticised for commercialisation and overcharging, frequent irrational procedures and violation of patients’ rights due to lack of effective self–regulation by doctors’ organisations and medical councils.
Setting up a multi–stakeholder participatory regulatory council at the district–level would mean forming a committee with representatives of doctors, patients and civil society organisations working in health sector as its members.
Many experts in the health sector believe that the Maharashtra Clinical Establishments Act 2014 would be an important step towards standardisation of quality and costs in the private medical sector.
"Health minister Suresh Shetty agreed to the suggestion of multiple stakeholders. Instead of adopting the Clinical Establishment Act (CEA) 2010, a Central act, it would be better to formulate the Maharashtra Clinical Establishment Act to regulate private hospitals and protect patients’ rights in the state," said Anant Phadke, senior health activist of the Jan Arogya Abhiyan, a statewide network of civil society organisations, activists and doctors.
The decision to set up the committee was taken in a meeting in Mumbai on December 3, which was attended by minister of state for public health Fauzia Khan, Rajya Sabha member Husain Dalwai and key health officials along with the representatives of Jan Arogya Abhiyan, Observer Research Foundation, a medical professionals’ association and representatives of the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC).
"It was decided that the state–level act will be drafted within two months by a joint drafting committee comprising representatives of Jan Arogya Abhiyan, civil society organisations and medical doctors associations under the chairmanship of MMC president. The committee would build on the positive features of the Clinical Establishment Act 2010 and overcome its deficiencies. This draft act will be placed at the next assembly session in Mumbai," Phadke said.
The Jan Arogya Abhiyan has been making this demand for over a year and had organised a morcha in Nagpur in December 2012 and an agitation in March 2013 in Mumbai. The Abhiyan submitted its draft of the Maharashtra Clinical Establishment Bill 2013in September 2013.
"Now that professional medical associations have changed their position and are in support of the enactment of Maharashtra Clinical Establishment Act, we hope to make rapid progress towards formulating and enacting this Act till February–March 2014," said Suhas Kolhekar, a medical practitioner and activist.
Medical practitioner and activist Abhijit More said, "Protection of patient's rights and grievance redressal mechanism for patients would prove to be a landmark step towards giving relief to patients who are discontent with the medical sector."Act ensures minimum health care
The Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 was enacted by the Centre to provide for registration and regulation of all clinical establishments in the country with a view to prescribing the minimum standards of facilities and services provided by them. The Act has taken effect in Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Sikkim, and all Union Territories since March 1, 2012Provisions demanded
- Patient’s Rights Charter
- Grievance redressal mechanism for patients and doctors
- Regulation of private hospitals’ charges
- Display of indicative rate cards in private hospitals
- Standard treatment guidelines to curb unnecessary investigations, operations and medications
- Multi–stakeholder participatory regulatory councils at the district–level which would include representatives of doctors, patients and civil society organisations working in health sector
- Designated autonomous public regulatory body for all clinical establishments
- Preparation of minimum standards for clinical establishment at the statelevel following consultations with experts and stakeholders
- Modified and practical ‘emergency patient first aid’ clause
- Removal of police representation from district authority
Times of India
09 Dec 2013,