NGO wants changes in rules to protect patients’ rights and provide grievance redressal

Jan Swasthya Abhiyan has suggested changes in the Rules of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 (CEA) with emphasis on a patients’ rights charter and a grievance-redressal mechanism.

In a representation addressed to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry followed up with a discussion with officials, the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan also advocated inclusion of civil society representation in the District Registering Authority to prevent corporatisation of health care and promote patients’ rights.

The CE Act was passed in 2010 and the Rules drafted last year. Since health is a State subject, States can either adopt the Central Act or frame their own law by making amendments in the Central Act.

“We have handed over our list of suggestions to the Ministry and even held a discussion with the Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary on this, and we are hoping for a positive response,” JSA’s Abhaya Shukla told The Hindu.

The Maharashtra wing of JSA is already leading a campaign for the enactment of a State-specific law instead of adopting the CE Act. It is seeking regulation of charges and display of indicative rate cards at private hospitals, standard treatment guidelines to curb unnecessary investigations and multi-stakeholder participatory regulatory councils at the district level, which would include representatives of doctors, patients and civil society organisations.

The JSA wants a designated autonomous public regulatory body for all clinical establishments, differential punitive provisions for public health facilities which would preclude their closure, and preparation of minimum standards for clinical establishments at the State level after consultations with experts and stakeholders.

The CE Act, 2010, and the 2012 Rules focus on the standardisation of quality and costs of care, Standard Treatment Guidelines, minimum standards, ensuring that hospital charges are within government norms and indicative charges for major items such as medical consultations and room charges are displayed.

The existing Registration Acts in many States are mostly limited to ensuring the registration of establishments and a modicum of physical standards. These are now likely to be replaced by the CE Act.A section of private doctors led by the Indian Medical Association have opposed the attempts of the Centre and some State governments to push for a legal framework for the registration and regulation of various clinical establishments.JSA, for its part, too believes that patients’ rights are neglected in these legal documents. It has said that any regulation that does not provide substantive relief to patients runs the risk of becoming irrelevant from the ordinary people’s point of view.