Assam plans law for private hospitals

Guwahati: If Assam government has its way poor patients in the state will get emergency medical services at specialised private hospitals. The state government is planning to enact a law making it mandatory for private sector hospitals to provide emergency services to the poor and needy.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi recently said government would soon introduce a bill making it mandatory for private hospitals so that no people are deprived of medical attention due to poor financial condition. Gogoi, while inaugurating a new private hospital recently said the private hospitals in the state should treat a certain percentage of poor patients at subsidized expense to extend much needed medical care to these needy individuals.

A state health department official said government was working out a detailed guideline to be followed by private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics while treating patients belonging to poor financial background. “The step has been taken as we have received several complaints where poor patients admitted at private nursing homes and hospitals during medical emergencies were denied medical support as they are unable to pay the fee. So government wants to make it mandatory for private hospitals at least to provide the emergency medical and life support aid irrespective of their financial background,” the official said.

The state, particularly the capital city Guwahati is witnessing boom in private healthcare sector with many private speciality hospitals opening business here which have emerged as a trade and business hub of Northeast India. Hundreds of patients from other Northeastern states are visiting Guwahati everyday for treatment and diagnosis.

The official said the state government will create provisions directing all private nursing homes to take into consideration the financial condition of poor patients and make some concession in the medical fee being charged.

“Healthcare system in the state has improved a lot due to the combined efforts of health professionals of both government and private hospitals and people now can avail quality treatment and diagnosis facility in the state itself. But private hospitals have to help the government initiative further,” the official said.

“The rich can travel abroad to get treated, but the poor have to struggle continuously even for the basic medical facilities. Many individuals often have to sell their property in order to meet the escalating medical expense. We have to take care that rising medical expense does not hinder in a sick getting health care,” the official said.