Mamata names HC judge chairman of hospital regulatory commission

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday named senior Calcutta High Court justice Asim Kumar Roy as chairman of the high-powered regulatory commission set up by the government to monitor activities of private hospitals.

Banerjee announced that Consumer Affairs Department Secretary Anil Verma would be the vice chairman of the 13-member West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission that has the status of a civil court.

"Justice Roy will be retiring in five months' time. If he says he will join after retiring, then we have no problem, Verma will be in-charge till then," said the Chief Minister.

Aprt from Chairman and Vice-Chairman, the 11 members of the commission include renowned doctors, a representative of nurses, the director of medical education, a nominee from the state health department, and two police officers. Banerjee observed that all stakeholders have been represented in the commission. "No politician has been taken," she said.

To a query whether private hospitals were likely to shut shop and leave the state because of the stringent law, Banerjee said: "There are 2,000 private health facilities. But there are complaints against only seven or eight of them. Should we succumb to such blackmailing tactics?"

Banerjee also said that some misconceptions were being created that doctors would now face difficulty. "Only a small section of people give priority to business over service. Most of our doctors follow all professional ethics."

The Act, passed by the assembly on March 3, aims to bring transparency, end harassment of patients and check medical negligence in private hospitals and nursing homes. It draws under its ambit all other private medical set ups - irrespective of whether they are registered or not.

The commission is empowered to issue summons in case of a dispute.

The penal measures range between compensation and scrapping the licence of the physician/hospital. The commission may also put the offender behind bars up to three years. It can also order trying the offender under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provisions including the sections pertaining to culpable homicide in case a patient dies due to severe negligence.