Kolkata: A top official of a prominent private hospital in Kolkata resigned today, a week after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cracked the whip on such hospitals for fleecing patients. The resignation also came a day before the chief minister introduces a new bill in Assembly laying down the law for private hospitals. A commission is to set up, as per the bill, whose orders apparently can't be stayed or challenged in court.
The immediate trigger for Dr Rupali Basu's resignation as president and CEO of Apollo Gleneagles Hospital was a police complaint by a young widow, Ruby Roy, on February 26, accusing the hospital for medical negligence and pressure for payments which caused her husband's death on February 24.
For an eight-day stay, the hospital allegedly charged more than Rs 7 lakh. When the family wanted to shift him to the government-run SSKM hospital, Apollo would not let him go till the full bill was paid.
On February 22, Ms Banerjee pulled up top private hospital officials for fleecing patients and other malpractices. Apollo was the first hospital on her list.
"I am not saying Apollo is a bad hospital. The doctors are very good. But the bills are just getting bigger by the day. Why?" the chief minister had asked angrily.
The original cause of this turbulence is the vandalism of February 22 at CMRI after the death of a 16-year-old patient. Her family claimed CMRI refused to begin treatment till a sum of money was deposited.
The outcome is the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Bill 2017 to be placed in Assembly on Friday.
Besides listing fines and punishments for erring hospitals and compensation for victims, the bill proposes the setting up of a regulatory commission with wide ranging powers.
Most important: It will have the powers of a Civil Court and its orders cannot be stayed by any court.
The bill also plans compensation from Rs 3 lakh to 5 lakh for negligence, a minimum compensation of Rs 10 lakh for a death due to negligence - the compensation will have to be paid in six months' time.
While the bill is being welcomed by ordinary people, the private health sector is wary and lawyers doubt the bill will pass legal scrutiny.
The bill applies only to private hospitals and not those run by the central or state government.