‘Star’ grades for hospitals

Guwahati, Sep 6 : Assam hospitals, both public and private, will be graded with five, four and three stars from next year to ensure that patients are not duped into choosing a healthcare centre based on false promises.

The initiative, which is part of the Right to Health Act, aims at arresting the erosion of people’s confidence in medical professionals and also making hospitals accountable to deliver facilities and services that they claim to offer.

“One of the major concerns in Assam is that there is no assurance that the hospitals, whether private or public, are equipped to provide the facilities and services they claim to have. Many patients realise after only being admitted that the hospitals are not equipped to provide what they have claimed. It causes a great deal of annoyance and dissatisfaction which goes against the very basic spirit of the Right to Health Act,” a source said.

An international agency, global tenders for which will be floated shortly, will asses hospitals based on their performance and ability to use infrastructure and accordingly award the grades.

Health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, a source said, has emphasised on the need to follow the hospital grading model on the lines of the system used in the UK and the US.

At present, Assam has three large public and nearly 500 private hospitals.

Every aspect of healthcare service would be addressed or scrutinised while awarding the grades.

The highest priorities will be given to technological expertise and availability of doctors, nurses and paramedics round the clock.

“The relationship between doctors and patients will play a crucial role in determining the grade status of a particular hospital,” the source said.

The five star status would be awarded to those hospitals which have been successful in making 100 per cent utilisation of their existing infrastructure, facilities and manpower to deliver the best healthcare to patients.

Four star status will be accorded to those which have utilised more than 90 per cent of their infrastructure and manpower to serve the people effectively.

Performance of three stars hospitals would be considered satisfactory but would have scope for improvement.

The hospitals that would not be included under the grades would need to pull up their socks and take drastic steps to improve their service delivery system.

The grading system would also influence standardisation of tariffs in private hospitals in Assam.

The Gauhati Medical College Teachers’ Association has welcomed the government’s decision.

“There has been a deterioration in the doctor-patient relationship over the years. It is high time that the doctors take a proactive step to meet the expectations of the society,” said N.N. Ganguly, general secretary of the association.