Regulation of rates in private hospitals: ‘Orders on to be issued soon’

Srinagar, Mar 07: With the treatment cost in private hospitals and nursing homes taking toll on the pockets of the patients, the state government Wednesday claimed that it is seriously considering regulation of rates in private hospitals and that fresh circular in this regard will be issued very soon.
Interestingly although government had fixed rates for procedures and services carried out in private healthcare, the move was got stayed by private hospitals in court. As per sources, the health department has not attempted vacating the stay since then.
“The committee has been constituted for rate regulation in the private hospitals and nursing homes. They have been asked to submit the report. But I can say that fresh circular will be issued very soon for regulation of rates in the private hospitals,” Minister of Health, Asiya Naqash told KNS over phone.
She said that government had constituted a committee to ‘dig deep’ into the infrastructure and facilities of the nursing homes and check whether these operate in accordance with the set norms.
Sources told KNS that the order may be issued in a month. “It will stop overcharging to the patients. Otherwise, these private hospitals are cheating the patients,” sources in the health department said.
Sources said there are no set of rules except the ‘rudimentary’ registration and licensing norms established by the government.
A senior official of health services said, “There is a state of anarchy in private healthcare in state especially in Kashmir. There is no quality control and no cost control. Private hospitals generally do not display the rate list for various services and procedures which is a ‘gross violation of business ethics,”
Sources said that it has been seen that the treatment cost in private hospitals and nursing homes is taking toll on the pockets of the patients.
In 2012, Health Department had issued an order making mandatory for nursing homes to display costs against services provided by them for the purpose of transparency. However, no sooner was the order issued private nursing homes took the matter to court and got a stay order.
Sources said that bone of contention between health authorities and private hospitals was not the regulation of rates but the rates that had been fixed.
“They (the private hospitals) had contested the order saying that the health services of Jammu and Kashmir had fixed rates that were not profitable for the businesses,” sources said.
One of the officials in the health department told KNS that in absence of regulations, there have been complaints coming frequently from patients about being fleeced at many nursing homes in J&K.
“Extra-charging is no offence as per current rules, medical negligence cannot be proven in most cases, facilities and infrastructure are not being inspected by anyone. Private hospitals in the state are having a free run,” said the official.
Sources said that there was variation of rates in private hospitals in the state. “One hospital charges Rs 40,000 for a surgery while another hospital charges Rs 30,000 for the same surgery. There are variations in rates, which creates inconveniences to the patients,”
The official said there are 42 private hospitals and nursing homes are registered with the department of Health Services Kashmir.
There are over a hundred private hospitals and nursing homes in the state registered with the department of health department.
But most of them lack necessary facilities with authorities failing to regulate their working.
However, officials said the other hospitals were given registrations after they were affiliated with the government hospitals and said they procure blood from there at the time of emergency. “These hospitals are run mostly by the medicos who are posted in government hospitals and remain absent from duties even during office hours,” sources maintained.
A senior medico of SMHS Hospital said it is necessary for every hospital to have its own blood bank. “If there are complications during the surgery or at the time of emergency, these hospitals most of the times shift patients to tertiary care government hospitals thus risking the lives of patients,” the medico said.
An official of health department said a team of officials inspect hospitals prior to its registration. “Their registration is also being renewed every three years. We check their manpower, infrastructure and they also have to get the NOC from the fire services department, pollution control department and municipal committees,” he said. (KNS)

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