8 Aug : Parliament on Tuesday passed a bill making it binding on all clinical establishments in four states and Union Territories to register themselves with the government.
“The law seeks to fill up the gaps for time-bound and quality medical treatment,” Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in the Rajya Sabha in his reply to the debate on the Bill on Tuesday.
Later, the Rajya Sabha passed the ‘Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Bill,2010. The Lok Sabha has already passed the draft legislation.
Initially, the Bill after it becomes a law, will be applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim and all UTs.
Since Parliament has no power to make laws relating to the state subjects, it is doing so at the behest of these four states.
“The state Assemblies of only these four states passed a resolution allowing Parliament to enact a law,” Azad said adding that the legislation can be extended to other states, once their Assemblies adopt resolutions.
Azad said he has written to all the chief ministers, “Most of them have replied in affirmative”, he added.
He said registration of clinical establishments would help the government to build a database for hospitals, which in turn would assist in formulating the national policies on health.
The hospitals and clinics would be categorised according to the facilities available with them and their database along with costs would be put on the websites. This would help patients make a choice for treatment, the minister said.
On opposition’s charges that the legislation would be toothless, Azad said, “We do not want to impose licence raj on the health sector… we need to go slowly and not take harsh measures which may be problematic.”
He said the private sector is adding to a lot of capacity building and any harsh legislation would deter their growth.
The Bill, covering both the private and the government sector provides for penalties to those contravening the law.
The penalties, starting from Rs 10,000 can go up to Rs five lakh. On an apprehension of CPI-M member Brinda Karat that the penal provisions may be misused against nurses and staff, the minister agreed to “examine” the issue.
On members’ demand, Azad also agreed to put in rules to ensure that owners of the clinical establishments are not exempted from the penal actions.