Health activists decry climbdown on KPME Bill, docs hail it

Health activists decry climbdown on KPME Bill, docs hail it

Health activists decry climbdown on KPME Bill, docs hail it

The state government's decision to revise some provisions of the  Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Bill following doctors' strike has drawn positive and negative reactions in equal measure.  

While healthcare activists want the bill to be passed in its original form, doctors have welcomed the government's climbdown.  

A host of progressive organisations conducted a press conference here on Friday and  argued that diluting the bill was  a betrayal of people's trust.  "Why is the government talking only to doctors, not the people?"  asked Vinay Sreenivasan, of Alternative Law Forum, which has been fighting for the enactment of the bill.  When a joint committee of the legislature had given suggestions on the bill, what was the need to talk to doctors again, he asked.  He said the fight would go on  until the government took a positive decision.  

Doctors expressed happiness following their meeting with  Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Health Minister K R Ramesh Kumar in Belagavi.

"Doctors are happy and so is the government. The government has  made changes to the KPME Bill as requested by us," said Dr Devi Shetty, the founder and chairman of Narayana Health.  He added that all the contentious provisions had been  dropped except that on running private medical establishments without registration. He  maintained that had doctors had not protested vehemently, the bill would have been passed in the Assembly.

Dr R Ravindra, the secretary of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association, said: "It's a win-win situation. Though we had asked for dropping the provision  on district redress cells, it has been modified in such a way that frivolous complaints by patients will not be entertained."

Dr Naveen Jayaram, consultant psychiatrist, Sakra World Hospital, said: "Patients already have no trust  in doctors. Had the  bill been passed, things would have gone worse. We were more worried about the district redress committee, which has now been settled."