KOCHI: Covid curbs and mounting financial crisis have spelled doom for several small hospitals across the state. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has warned that the situation would worsen with the implementation of the Clinical Establishment Act (CEA), which prescribes high standards for all healthcare institutions. As per the data with IMA, around 1,000 small hospitals in the state have shut down over the last two to five years. At present, less than 950 small hospitals are left in the state, it said.
IMA state president Dr Samuel Koshy said though they do not offer high-end facilities, small hospitals and clinics play significant roles in their specific localities. “These hospitals, which provide immediate medical attention or admission for minor injuries and illnesses, have helped many people. Now, mainly due to Covid restrictions and financial crisis, many of them have downed shutters. The Act will affect more of them,” he said.
CEA aims to introduce a minimum standard for all healthcare institutions, which would be classified into categories based on their size and the services and facilities. The standard will vary as per the hospital’s assigned category. As per the Act, permanent registration is offered to institutions having accreditation from National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare Providers (NABH) or the National Accreditation Board for Laboratories (NABL). Though several smaller clinics might not necessarily meet NABH criteria and hence not get the accreditation, they are still capable of providing quality healthcare, albeit on a smaller scale, said an IMA official.
Dr Joseph K, a member of Kerala Private Hospital Association, said CEA should be revised.“It is good that the government, through CEA, is looking to rein in bogus treatment centres here. However, its effects would be felt in smaller hospitals more. Small and medium hospitals where people get easy access to affordable healthcare face risk of closure if CEA is implemented. It should be revised in a way that suits all hospitals. It would be very difficult for hospitals to survive if they do not have even 20 patients to treat. Their concerns should be addressed too,” he said.