Even as public healthcare struggled to meet the challenges posed by the onslaught Covid-19 and most private hospitals charged exorbitant bills, a public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court (SC) has sought implementation of the Clinical Establishment Act that stipulates minimum standards for affordable and quality healthcare.
Seeking a response, a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant has issued notices to the Centre, states, Union territories and the National Human Rights Commission. “Let us hope the government will respond,” the CJI remarked.
The public interest litigation (PIL), filed by NGO Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, said non-implementation of Clinical Establishments Act 2010 and subsequent rules exposed a majority of the population to the potential exploitation by private healthcare providers, leading to the denial of the right to health during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioner, stated that 70% of hospital treatment needs are met by private hospitals. He further noted that the law provides for common conditions for registration of clinical establishments, minimum standards of facilities and services, and fixation of rates for each type of medical and pathological procedure and services.
Parikh said the Centre has not framed or notified these conditions for the same and sought directions for notification and implementation of conditions for observance of minimum standards, display determined rates for medical and clinical procedures and services, and compliance with the standard treatment protocol.
The petition also sought directions for a uniform standard of healthcare in consonance with Article 21 and Article 47 of the Indian Constitution.
Parikh said that the patients have certain rights and wanted the declaration of the Patients Charter, formed by the NHRC and the Health Ministry, by the government.
Parikh said the Clinical Establishment Act applies to 11 states and six UTs. According to this law, the National Council for Clinical Establishments and state councils can prescribe standard guidelines for rates to be charged for the treatment, medical infrastructure and facilities. Parikh said minimum standards are not being notified.
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