The new Clinical Establishments (CE) Act may be under the scanner of a special review committee and still some way from being implemented, but several doctors in Calcutta and Howrah have been asked in the past few days to either comply with the new rules within seven days, or face action.
An Indian Medical Association delegation, flooded with complaints from member doctors about the health department directive and harassment by inspectors, got in touch with state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra, who was equally bewildered about the directive.
“I have no clue about this. I know that the CE Act is being modified by a committee,” the minister told a top IMA functionary on Thursday.
Mishra then pulled up department officials, first for despatching directives not applicable at the moment and second, for moving at a snail’s pace on modifying the Act. Later, Mishra told Metro: “I have asked the officials to speed up the process so that the Act can be implemented soon.”
Taking advantage of the government announcement, several building-owners have even asked doctors to shift their chambers, since the new rule states that clinical establishments cannot be run from residential apartments. About a dozen cases have also been filed under the new Act at Calcutta High Court, although the new rules have not yet been implemented. The health minister recently sent a letter to the IMA, stating that the new Act “is under active consideration” at the moment.
The Clinical Establishments Rules came under much criticism from the medical fraternity after the government announced a series of changes in the way healthcare is run in the state by making several amendments to the CE Act of 2001.
The IMA objected to some points, including bringing individual doctors’ chambers within the ambit of the Act and specifications of the size of the chambers, besides registration fees being hiked to Rs 2,500 per chamber.
“A lot of points were unacceptable to us. We had asked the government to keep individual doctors’ chambers out of the purview of the new Act, but they did not agree. Now, we have asked them to make a few modifications, like omitting the clause of permanent air-conditioned chambers for all doctors,” said IMA secretary Moloy Patra. The association had also urged the government not to impose stringent rules on polyclinics and small nursing home-owners.
“Doctors, who have been treating patients nearly free at pharmacies, will now charge exorbitant fees to maintain AC chambers, with a bigger waiting room and two separate toilets,” said IMA president Subir Ganguly.
Following mounting pressure from medical bodies, the state government decided to review the CE rules before implementation. “We are taking a second look, but there is very little scope for large-scale changes,” said director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee.