Won’t compromise patients’ interest while privatizing district hospitals: Health Minister
New Delhi, Feb 4: The government will not compromise the interest of patients while handing over district government hospitals to private medical colleges through public-private partnership (PPP) mode, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
Such experiments have successfully been implemented in the last 25 years and even government think-tank Niti Aayog has taken note of this and come out with draft guidelines, he said during the Question Hour.
The Minister asserted that the step is permitted under Sector 2(5) of the Medical Council of India (MCI) Act 1999 and made it clear that it is not being done to promote the private sector.
Responding to a supplementary query, the Health Minister said: “We will offer district hospitals to the private sector without compromising the interest of patients.”
A private sector can have medical colleges but cannot have hospitals with patients. The government has many district hospitals with patients. The private sector has money to run the hospitals, he said.
After seeing the successful cases, the Niti Aayog also deliberated on the issue and has come out with draft norms and plans to link existing private medial colleges with functional district hospitals through the viability gap funding which was announced in the Budget 2020-21 for aspirational districts, he added.
The Minister also disagreed with CPI member’s view that the entry of private sector in medical education was eroding the quality of education.
“Some of the best medical colleges in the country are of international repute and providing better services,” he added.
The government said the Clause 2(5) of the MCIs Establishment of Medical College Regulations, 1999, prescribes that the appropriate government may allow utilisation of facilities of a hospital owned and managed by it for establishing a medical college by a person/agency /trust/society/company by entering into a Memorandum of Understanding for this purpose.
The Minister said that the hospital to be transferred would be of minimum 300 beds with necessary infrastructural facilities capable of being developed into teaching institution for the proposed medical college.
Responding to a separate query on dialysis for poor patients, the Health Minister said dialysis services are provided at district hospitals for management of chronic kidney diseases under the Pradhan Mantri National Dialysis Programme (PMNDP).
Dialysis services under PMNDP are provided free of cost to Below Poverty Line (BPL) patients. In Andhra Pradesh, the programme has been implemented in all 13 districts with 35 centres, he said.
As per central government norms, there is no provision of pension for BPL dialysis patients. However, Andhra Pradesh government has informed that the state government is paying monthly pension of Rs 10,000 to BPL dialysis patients, he added.