IMA’s Bengal branches move SC over new health law

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Kolkata, April 20 (IANS) Around 10 branches of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in the state have moved the Supreme Court against the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Act and sought its repeal, IMA’s south Kolkata chapter’s chief said on Thursday.

“So far eight to 10 units have jointly filed the writ petition after a go-ahead by IMA headquarters for legal action. We are expecting 10 more branches to sign the revised writ petition in the coming days,” said R.D. Dubey.

Dubey accused the state government of not paying heed to their demands for amendments in the law, forcing them to move the court.

“We want the law to be scrapped and issuance of a revised draft with demanded changes. We are not against the Act but against certain clauses, which are harmful to medical practice. A fear has developed among the people regarding private health establishments. Doctors are refusing to accept medical cases due to fear of punitive action under the law,” Dubey said.

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“In small towns, you have only one or two private hospitals. If doctors do not stay there for fear of punishment, who will treat the patients? This way, people will be disadvantaged.”

He said government hospitals should also be brought under the Act’s ambit.

On March 3, the Bengal assembly passed the tough bill to regulate the functioning of private health facilities, providing up to three-year jail and trial for culpable homicide and a maximum fine of Rs 50 lakh in case of patient deaths due to severe medical negligence.

The legislation, aimed at bringing transparency, ending harassment of patients and checking medical negligence in private hospitals and nursing homes, brings under its ambit all other private medical set-ups — irrespective of whether they are registered or not.

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Pursuant to the law, a high-powered 13-member regulatory commission has been set up to monitor activities of private hospitals.



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