New medical bill will affect quality of healthcare in Karnataka: Doctors

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The Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill 2017, which proposes to regulate private medical services by fixing prices for services and prescribing punishment for doctors in case of irregularities in pricing-related matters, has put the Karnataka chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the state government at loggerheads. The bill is scheduled to be tabled in the assembly next week.Private doctors have termed the bill draconian and are protesting three clauses – setting up of a grievance redressal cell as a supervisory body with powers to act against doctors up to the extent of jailing them, exclusion of government hospitals and price-capping on treatment in private hospitals.

The IMA and private practitioners want the government to consider recommendations made by the committee headed by former Chief Justice of Karnataka high court Vikramajit Sen. “Justice Sen had said there cannot be two sets of rules for private and government hospitals. However, this bill leaves government hospitals out of the ambit of legislation meant to ensure efficient and timely treatment for patients and curb malpractices,” said Rajshekar S Bellary, president, IMA Karnataka.

The government must bring all government-run hospitals under the ambit of KPME Act to ensure quality healthcare, said Madan S Gaekwad, president of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA). “We don’t want any price control by the government. The patient charter should be included as a guideline for all doctors and not as a law,” he added.

According to H Nagendra Swamy, senior president at Manipal Hospitals, none of the proposals made by the Justice Vikramajit Sen Committee has been considered.”Following our protest in June, a joint select committee was formed. However, the government still came up with a bill that will neither benefit patients nor any other stakeholder,” he said.

“It is necessary that we take this extreme step (protest) as our survival is at stake,” a statement by the Surgeons’ Association said.