The officials accept that the change will not prevent aggrieved persons from approaching consumer forums for medical negligence or deficiencies in health services
The term “Healthcare” has been dropped from the list of services specifically mentioned in the draft consumer protection bill. This move can be seen as an attempt to lessen the apprehension of medical fraternity over the law being used adversely against it.
The bill states that
all goods and services will be covered under the proposed law and hence no
provision to protect consumers has been diluted at all. For all practical
purposes, this will include healthcare as well,” said an official.
The officials accepts that
the change will not prevent aggrieved persons from approaching consumer forums
for medical negligence or deficiencies in health services and that the deletion
was in keeping with the concerns expressed by doctors and medical associations.
Sources said the Cabinet on Monday approved the “technical amendment”
in the proposed law to ensure the bill is passed smoothly in the Upper House
where it was stalled during the first Modi government and finally lapsed.
The bill had gone through the parliamentary committee. But in 2019, when the new consumer protection bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, “healthcare” was included in the list after telecom. Sources said this was done after the consumer affairs ministry came across a Supreme Court judgment of 1995 which clearly said that medical services to patients, for which fees are charged, come under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act. “So taking out healthcare won’t be legally tenable,” said a source.