Text of letter to Hon’ble Minister of Health Sri J P Nadda:
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), a network of concerned civil society groups and individuals espousing the goal of Health and Health Care for All in India have learnt through media reports that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Govt. of India is withdrawing or diluting several provisions of the proposed Clinical Establishment Act on the unethical threat of strike euphemistically called “Satyagraha” by the Indian Medical Association. We understand a delegation of the IMA met you with charter of its six demands which included exemption to accredited hospitals from registration under the Clinical Establishment Act. Media reports suggest that the Ministry of Health has since constituted an inter-ministerial committee to examine the demands placed by the IMA and the said committee has representation from the IMA.
Jan Swasthya Abhiyaan,is opposed to any such exemption of doctors/hospitals from licensing under CEA. In the past the IMA and other similar organizations have not shown scant interest in actively pursuing accreditation of private health facilities. It is only now, when the CEA has been enacted by the central governments and by some states and is being implemented, that the IMA is advocating the idea of accreditation as an alternative to CEA registration. This is a clear attempt to scuttle CEA. Accreditation is a voluntary process and cannot be a substitute for licensing under CEA. From the point of view of patients it is not enough to lay down minimum standards for maintenance of minimum quality of care for patients. There needs to be a mechanism to monitor the ongoing observance of these standards and an effective grievance redress mechanism for patients in case of perceived violations of these standards as well as punishment for avoidable lapses. CEA-2010 rules lay down that charges to be levied by hospitals would be within the range decided by the government All this is not possible if some hospitals are kept out of CEA licensing. Given these facts, JSA is opposed to the proposal made by the IMA.
JSA is of the view that the Government should not have given credence to the IMA’s demand by setting up a committee to look into the issue. Given, however, that such a committee is being set up, JSA wishes to request that there should be representation of JSA in the Committee. Any policy decision about health care should not be taken only in consultation with a body that represents only a section of the medical profession. The reason for the very existence of a health care system relates to the needs of patients, and hence views of civil society organizations which represent interests of patients must be sought on issues which affect health care.