Bringing relief to thousands of people of Karnataka, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah announced that the doctors have decided to call off their strike.
The agitation started on November 3, when almost 40,000 private medical establishments were closed and 50,000 doctors abstained from their duties. Official figure says that almost seven people died due to the protest.
Again on November 16 over 22,000 doctors resumed their protest against the proposed Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill (KPME) 2017. Health Minister Ramesh Kumar proposed the bill. The Private Hospitals’ and Nursing Homes’ Association, or Phana kept outpatient department on Friday.
What is the proposed bill?
The new propositions were added in the KPME act in May. The noteworthy provisions of the bill are:
- The fee charged by private medical establishments are to be capped according to government-set regulations. This will prevent private hospitals from charging exorbitant fees for procedures.
- A grievance cell to be set up for patients to voice concerns regarding anything, be it the high bill or sloppy infrastructure or the treatment they were provided.
- Private establishments will have to conform to the standards of infrastructure, the number of staff, facilities such as operation theatres, medical attendees set by the government.
- A booklet or brochure with exact fee will be given to the patient beforehand and nothing excess can be charged. Also, for treatments where the fixed fee cannot be levied, an estimate of the final cost of the treatment will be informed before proceeding with the treatment. The final bill should not exceed the estimate.
- Cost of treatment in private establishment will come under health assurance schemes.
- Accident victims, criminal assault victims and other emergency cases will be administered with first aid and other necessary treatment and the government will reimburse the cost.
Why were the doctors not happy?
The doctors are of the opinion that this would get the quality of treatment down in the state. Devi Shetty, founder and chairman of Narayana Hrudalaya, told the Hindustan Times called it an attack on the fraternity. “The honour and prestige of the medical fraternity will be affected if the Bill is passed.”.
The doctors say that more focus can be paid to better the infrastructure and facilities available at government hospitals.
Deccan Chronicles reports that even though Siddaramaiah was keen on announcing about the withdrawal of the protest after the four-hour meeting, the IMA, Karnataka chapter president, Dr Ravindranath said that final decision would be taken only after discussing with the association members.
Although no official announcement has been made but Dr H. Sudarshan Ballal, chairman, Manipal Hospitals revealed that the government has agreed to remove the imprisonment clause for violating laws of the new bill. Also, a new clause will be added where doctors will be protected from harassers.