A much hyped Bill (W.B. Clinical Establishment Registration, Regulations, Transparency Bill, 2017) was passed today in West Bengal assembly by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinomool government claiming that this new law would rein in unethical practice and medical negligence in the state. Ms. Banerjee has also made boisterous claims that this is a truly remarkable Bill that will form a “model” for the rest of the country and bring “historic” changes in practice of medicine. But is this Bill a truly new innovation by the Trinomool government and will it really bring any change in the crumbling medical system in West Bengal or this is just another gimmick manufactured by a political leader to hoodwink ordinary people? Several questions must be raised in view of this new Bill:
1) Is this Bill truly new as claimed by the CM? The answer is a categorical “NO”. Previous Left-front govt. in West Bengal made the W.B. Clinical Establishment Act (CEA), 2010 which is virtually similar to this new Bill except that the new Bill has recommended to raise the amount of compensation to be paid to the victim’s family. The problem with the previous CEA, 2010 is that the laws were never implemented by both the Left-front and Trinomool governments under influence of the powerful doctors’ lobby (IMA).
2) If Banerjee govt. is truly interested to go after the unscrupulous doctors and hospitals, why they remained virtually silent for the past 6 years as hapless patients continued to die from rampant medical negligence across West Bengal?
3) The Bill proposes to form a new regulatory “Commission” that would investigate and take action against the errant medicos. Why do we need a new regulatory “Commission” – the state already has one for more than 100 years which is known as “West Bengal Medical Council” (WBMC). The WBMC is a den of corruption under the control of doctors belonging to the Trinomool party as the record over the past 6 years would demonstrate without any doubt. Mamata Banerjee, being both CM and Health Minister has kept a blind eye to PBT’s and countless other medical victims repeated pleas for justice.
4) Perhaps most importantly, the new Bill is applicable only for private hospitals and even if patients die from reckless medical malpractice in any government hospital, the Bill will do nothing against the delinquent doctors and hospitals. Banerjee government has claimed that 70% of state population seek medical help in government hospitals because they can’t afford the high price of treatment in private hospitals. So, do the lives of the poor people have no value in the eyes of this government of “Ma, Mathi and Manush”?