Mamata becomes people's voice, asks private hospitals to be more humane

State to set up health regulatory commission to monitor medical establishments
Report by: 
Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay
22 Feb 2017

The state government is going to set up a State Health Regulatory Commission to be headed by a retired judge which will work as a watchdog for the health care system of the state. For this purpose the government will introduce a bill in the Assembly on March 3. 

The government is also going to bring in an amendment to the Clinical Establishment Act so that private hospitals become more responsible in dispensing health care for the patients. These two things were today revealed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee at a meeting with representatives of private hospitals and nursing homes at Town Hall in the city.  During the 1 hour 15 minutes-long meeting, Mamata pulled up the representatives of top private medical facilities and held them responsible for charging patients excessively, negligence in treatment, doctors given commissions by medicine stores, keeping patients at ICUs and on ventilators for long periods without justification, conducting tests on patients without valid reasons, exceeding the package that has been declared and not releasing dead bodies if the bills were not settled. ``If you want to make a profit of 100 per cent where you can get only 20 per cent you will be nothing but a butcher house. I appeal to you to become more humane while treating your patients,'' Mamata said.

The chief minister also said that out of the registered 2088 nursing homes of the state of which 370 are in Kolkata, the government surveyed 942 nursing homes. And out of that while 70 have been show-caused, licences of 33 nursing homes have been cancelled. Criticising the hospitals over reports that they do not provide patients with medical bills and records, Mamata said it has to be made mandatory. She also said categorically that returning patients in emergency condition and blocking the release of dead bodies for inabilities of patient parties in paying bills won't be tolerated. The chief minister also requested the hospitals to take some measures so that patients with paltry income could be treated.

These measures, she suggested, will include setting up of fair price medicine shops and diagnostic centre, setting up of budget sections in the hospitals, introducing grievance cells and help desk, to name a few. The meeting was convened in view of the series of complaints the government has been receiving regarding private hospitals for quite some time and also the incidents of vandalism at various hospitals that were done by aggrieved people who lost some of their relatives because of alleged shoddy treatment the patients and their relatives got at various hospitals. Several complaints were lodged with the health department headed by the chief minister herself from various sections of the society including top leaders and MLAs who alleged that private hospitals and nursing homes were charging patients exorbitantly and they had been negligent in the treatment.

"We have decided to set up a West Bengal Health Regulatory Commission which will be monitoring the billing and performance of private hospitals and nursing homes," Mamata said.  The Commission will have 10-members, comprising a former chief justice, health experts, principal secretary of the health department, representatives of hospitals and patients, the chief minister said. It will submit its report to the chief minister every month, she added. "People should remember that the state government will extend full support to those doing good work but it will take action against those who are not performing well," she said.

The institutions on their part assured the chief minister of full co-operation with the state government and said they would look into all the allegations labelled against them. They also promised more transparency and humane approach and thanked the state government for all kinds of supports and assistances that they get. CMRI, which witnessed major vandalism last week following death of a patient, thanked the chief minister for standing by them in their hours of need.