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With stiff opposition from private players, the fate of the clinical establishments Act seems to be at risk
In an email written by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) to the Ministry of Health, the civil society network has alleged that the government is considering a dilution in the clinical establishments Act at the behest of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), a private body of health practitioners.
The email states that the health ministry seems to be taking into account the unwillingness of private practitioners to be subject to provisions of the Act and has constituted an inter-ministerial committee to examine the demands made by the IMA.
Civil society members have opposed this move and have warned the government that it would benefit only private players and not the citizens of the country.
JSA espouses the goal of health and healthcare for all in India and is opposed to any exemption for doctors and hospitals from licensing under the Act. IMA and other organisations have instead put forth the option of accreditation to avoid being subject to clear cut standards mentioned in the Act. The civil society group says, however, that accreditation is a voluntary process and cannot be substituted for licensing under the Act. As is evident in the email, IMA has also threatened to go on strike against the Act.
From the point of view of the patients, the letter says that there is a need for a mechanism to monitor the ongoing observance of standards and an effective grievance redressal mechanism in case of perceived violations of these standards as well as punishment for avoidable lapses. The Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010, states that charges to be levied by hospitals should be within the range decided by the government.
If some hospitals are kept out of licensing under the Act, the purpose of the Act will be defeated, says Amit Sengupta, JSA national convener.
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