Kerala Assembly is likely to take up the landmark bill that aims to fix tab on treatment charges at hospitals, which saw a surge in the recent past, thanks to the mushrooming of luxury super specialty hospitals and medical tourism. The bill to regulate private hospitals and clinics would come up in the next Assembly session. 

 

Health Minister  K K Shylaja said that the bill aimed at regulating the rates at private hospitals has been drafted by the department and would be considered in the next session of state Assembly. The treatment charges in private hospitals have  become unaffordable to common man. But the government has limitations in intervening in the functioning of these hospitals in the absence of law, the minister said.

 


Even though Kerala has made great advancements in health sector with large network of private and public hospitals across the state, it has no mechanism to control the private hospitals, diagnostic centres and labs. With the proliferation and commercialisation of private hospitals and specialised labs, complaints of exploitation and irregularities have also multiplied, necessitating a regulatory regime. 

 

In 2013, a bill - The Kerala Clinical Establishments (Registration and regulation) Bill had been tabled in the Assembly. But it's scope was limited to registration and inspection of clinics, labs and hospitals and formation of a council for the same, besides other provisions. The new bill, drafted by the Health Department, after extensive consultations with stake holders, is expected to be a comprehensive one that would change the health sector in Kerala for the days to come. 

 

Besides bringing standardisation in hospital rates, the bill on the anvil would set guidelines for the qualifications for staff and doctors of the hospitals. As per an estimation, Kerala has over 1,100 private hospitals and clinics. Meanwhile, there are apprehensions that small hospitals and clinics would find it difficult to comply with the proposals if the government set the standards high and would be forced to close down. It is estimated that over 46% of the population depends on private hospitals even though the state has a big network of government hospitals, medical colleges and community health centres.