Mumbai Local

Crack the whip on private hospitals, says NHRC

The commission disposed of 35 cases and granted a total compensation of Rs. 4.5 lakh in different cases at a public hearing on complaints of medical negligence at TISS in Govandi.— Photo: Rajneesh Londhe  

In light of a strong call to monitor institutionalised irregularities in private healthcare, the National Human Rights Commission on Thursday underscored the need for a regulatory authority for private hospitals and medical institutions.

“Hospitals have to be regulated. There is a fervent demand for a law to curb irregularities in institutions and a regulatory body to look into complaints against hospitals. The government should either set up a new regulatory body or amend the Medical Council Act to empower medical councils to regulate hospitals. At the moment, the councils can only regulate the conduct of private doctors and cannot act against private hospitals,” NHRC acting Chairperson Justice Cyriac Joseph told the media here on Friday.

The commission did not hear cases from the private sector saying they were out of its purview. Justice Joseph said the inclusion of private hospitals in the publicity material of the public hearing was “a mistake.”

He pointed out to several complaints of crude conduct by staff at private hospitals and high cost of treatment.

A three-member team of the NHRC chaired a two-day public hearing on healthcare woes and cases of medical negligence for four States of the western region in Mumbai, which concluded on Thursday. The commission will hold similar public hearings in other regions.

Of the 106 total cases, the commission heard 88. There were 38 complaints from Maharashtra, 30 from Gujarat and 20 from Rajasthan. There were no complaints from Goa. Twenty-three cases were not heard as they were not found to be under the commission’s jurisdiction. A total of 35 cases were disposed of and a total compensation of Rs. 4.5 lakh was ordered in different cases.

“From the complaints, it cannot be disputed that the condition of healthcare in all these States is not satisfactory, particularly in the rural areas,” Justice Joseph said.

He pointed to the shortage of doctors, medical staff in primary healthcare centres and government hospitals. “Either there is an absence of hospitals in some rural areas or basic facilities are not available or those available are inadequate. Sometimes doctors posted at PHCs are not present,” he said.

Other violations of right to healthcare included unnecessary reference to private hospitals by public hospitals, absence of grievance redressal cells at the State and district levels. “One key deficiency, which even the officials admitted to was the non-availability of specialist doctors, particularly in rural areas.”

On a personal note, Justice Joseph expressed frustration at not being able to help the victims and their families “because of statutory prohibition”.

The commission will hold a formal meeting to discuss the ideas and suggestions which emerged from the hearing. It will deliberate and make recommendations to the Centre and the State government concerned.

Justice Joseph also called for implementation of the Clinical Establishment Act. Maharashtra has decided to formulate a new law on the lines of the Central act.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 9:30:09 PM |

Next Story