BHUBANESWAR: Patients struggled to get emergency treatment and medical investigations as private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres across the State remained closed on Friday.
The private health care institutions downed their shutters in response to a 24-hour strike called by All Odisha Private Medical Establishment Forum (AOPMEF) demanding amendment in the Clinical Establishments (Control and Regulation) Act which it said will affect most diagnostic centres that do not treat patients but are treated at par with hospitals.
Though treatment of existing patients continued as assured by the forum, long queues were seen at the public facilities as all private patholabs were shut. President of AOPMEF Dr Ajoy Kumar Mishra said rules framed by the State Government are meant to close most of the existing facilities as public institutions are excluded from the ambit. “The rules should be uniformly applicable to both private and Government establishments,” he said.
Apprehensive of not getting their clinical establishments registered or renewed due to stringent fire safety rules, the owners had earlier urged the Health Minister to relax the norms and develop a single window system to make the process easier.“Instead, the Government has made it mandatory for all. How can the patholabs be compared with hospitals and 10-bed facilities with 100-bed hospitals?” he wondered.
The private hospitals raised objections over the rules which mandated collection of diagnostic fees as per Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) rates. “The Government wants private centres to charge Rs 1,000 for MRI and doctors be paid Rs 50 as consultation fee. When the Government hospitals like AIIMS charges Rs 3,000 for MRI, can we manage with one third of it?” secretary of the forum Dr Indramani Jena questioned.The Government had made elaborate arrangements and leaves of doctors at public health care facilities were cancelled to ensure that patients do not suffer.