Indian Medical Association writes to governor to stall healthcare bill

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    KOLKATA: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has written to the governor of Bengal seeking a debate and deliberation on the proposed Clinical Establishment ((Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill 2017 before it is passed.

    Raising objections to several provisions in the bill, which, it believes are loaded against doctors and “unfairly” holds them accountable for offences often not committed by them, the national body of doctors has also questioned the exclusion of the government hospitals from the purview of the bill.

    IMA office-bearers from across the country on Saturday met in Delhi to discuss the bill, which came into being following accident victim Sanjay Roy’s death at SSKM Hospital after he was shifted there from Apollo (and not at Apollo as erroneously mentioned in some early copies of The Times of India on Saturday morning).

    “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 the doctors. While they have been made liable to be charged under criminal laws, there is no provision to act against clinical establishments. But it is more often the hospitals that are responsible for lapses,” said KK Aggarwal, president IMA. Senior IMA members from the state MA Qasim and S Banerjee attended Saturday’s meeting.

    IMA has also questioned the decision to exclude government hospitals from the bill. “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 redress system should be introduced which will make it easier, fairer and transparent,” said Aggarwal.

    Meanwhille, three Apollo doctors were called to record their statements, taking the total number to 19. Based on their statements, cops summoned an Apollo executive on Saturday night. The cops is likely to continue recording statements till March 12.

    Sources in Lalbazar said they were in constant touch with Swasthya Bhavan regarding technicalities of medical negligence. The police, on the other hand, were providing them with evidences of ‘extortion’ collected by them. Till late on Saturady evening, there were indications that the police were mulling to lodge a fresh case once the health department report is made public. “Nothing will, however, be rushed. We are going by the evidences collected by the police and the health department probe team,” said a senior officer.

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