Rajya Sabha passes healthcare, industrial disputes bills (Lead)

August 3rd, 2010 - 10:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) Accelerating its pace of work after a week of disruptions, the Rajya Sabha Tuesday passed separate bills on ensuring uniformity in healthcare delivery and on improving the mechanism for resolving industrial disputes.
The house, which was disrupted thrice in the morning by opposition members seeking a discussion on the Delhi government’s diversion of funds meant for Dalits to Commonwealth Games, debated the issue in the post-lunch session before taking up the two bills.

The Clinical Establishments Regulation and Accreditation Bill seeks uniformity in healthcare delivery by making registration of all clinical establishments mandatory.

The Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Bill seeks to provide workmen direct access to labour courts or tribunals in case of a dispute arising out of a dismissal.

Both bills were passed by voice votes.

Replying to the debate on the healthcare bill, Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the registration of clinics across the country will pave the way for regulation and standardization of healthcare.

“Registration of the clinical establishment is the focus of the bill. It will provide data about the number and standard of clinics to the center,” Azad said, adding: “Registration will be the key to regulation”.

Earlier, participating in the debate Monday, opposition members had objected to the legislation being focused only on registration and ignoring the other aspects like regulation and standardization of prices.

Dispelling their doubts, the minister said the bill will also pave the way for categorising clinics, which will facilitate their regulation.

“We cannot run into regulation without having an idea of what we have to regulate. Once we have the data of the clinics, we can categorise them for regulation.” Azad said.

He said that the bill will not impeach on the authority of the state governments and it aims to create a national data bank of clinical establishments.

“To identify and rectify flaws in the health system, we need such data,” he said adding: “Our response to H1N1 (swine flu) would have been better if we had such data.”

Answering the issue of fixing prices for treatment, the minister said this can be done only after categorising the establishments.

“Once categorization takes place to prescribe minimum standards, we can prescribe a range of costs,” he said.

He also denied that the legislation will lead to a “license raj”, as apprehended by some members as it had a provision for

self-declaration.

“Provisional registration will be given to the clinics after

self-declaration,” he said adding that permanent registration will be provided only after the standards are notified.

The bill which was passed late in the evening, also saw some members getting impatient by the extension of the house sitting beyond the pre-determined 7 p.m.

An enthusiastic Azad, however, said: “Health is the most important issue and such legislation change the face of the nation. The members should not get impatient if it takes a few minutes more.”

The minister’s sense of humor was not missing when he moved for passing the bill, saying: “Members in general and Brinda Karat (of the CPI-M) in particular should not move amendments.”

The bill was later passed by the house by a voice vote.

Meanwhile, the National Commission on Minority Education Institutions Bill was also introduced in the house by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

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