Breaking down the Right to Health bill: All you need to know

The law of right to health has come into effect in Rajasthan and it became the first state in India to take such a step. Read more about this…

Last Updated on May 1, 2023 by Shabnam Sengupta

The legislative assembly of Rajasthan passed the Right to Health Bill 2022 (RTH) on March 21. This bill aims to improve medical services in both state and private hospitals. It also aims to increase accountability, and provide free treatment to the people. One of the primary reasons for introducing the RTH bill is to ensure that hospitals do not deny treatment to patients. Additionally, the government will support patients, who are in need of emergency treatment but are unable to afford it, by covering the expenses. The legislation also establishes a state health logistical complaint authority and includes provisions for a district level health authority.

Provisions in Right to Health Bill

According to the Right to Health bill in Rajasthan, private hospitals are under obligation to provide emergency treatment. They must also provide intensive care, and other necessary medical services to patients without demanding payments. Every citizen of the state will receive information regarding testing, treatment, possible outcomes, potential complications, and estimated expenses related to any ailment. In the event of a road accident, the injured parties will receive free transportation, treatment, and insurance coverage. Healthcare providers must treat patients with dignity and confidentiality during their treatment.

In medico-legal cases, hospitals will not wait for police clearance to initiate the treatment. Patients will also be provided with detailed documents, test reports, and medical bills. Female staff members must be present during the medical testing of female patients by male staff members. If a patient is critically referred from a hospital, government or private, ambulance services must be provided. No patient can be denied treatment under any circumstances. This bill also establishes platforms at the state and district levels to handle complaints against doctors, with no opportunity for appeal in a civil court in such instances.

What does the amended bill say

In February 2023, doctors’ groups began protesting against the Right to health bill in Rajasthan objecting several provisions. The state government made a number of amendments to the legislation to accommodate their demands. The original bill did not define emergency situations. However, the amended version includes situations defined by the state health authority such as accidents, snakebites, and animal bites/attacks, based on the doctors’ viewpoints. Additionally, the bill also included emergency situations related to accidents, designated healthcare centres, emergency obstetric care, first aid, stabilisation, and transfer/transportation. These inclusions were based on the Indian Medical Association’s recommendations.

The original bill did not include any provision for reimbursement of emergency treatment expenses. But the amended version specifies that the state government will take responsibility if the patient is financially unable to afford the treatment. The amended bill also outlines the responsibilities of both medical staff members and citizens. Additionally, it allows for RTH-related matters to be addressed in civil court.

On April 4, Rajasthan government and doctors reached an agreement regarding the implementation of the Right to Health bill. It states that the law will exclude private multi-speciality hospitals with less than 50 beds in the first phase. Additionally, it will exempt the private hospitals that did not receive any concessions or discounts from the government during land allotment.

The new law will apply to private medical colleges and hospitals. It will also apply to hospitals operating on a public-private partnership (PPP) model. Hospitals that received land for free or at subsidised rates will also be subject to the law. It will also cover the trust-operated hospitals that received land through subsidy. The process of granting licenses and other recognitions will be streamlined through a single-window system. Additionally, the new law will address the issue of granting fire-related ‘no objection certificate’ to private hospitals every five years. Furthermore, the agreement stated that the government will consult with IMA before making any changes to the rules related to RTH law in the future.

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