April 22, 2019

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    Regulating private sector health service charges

    February 11, 2019

    The private hospitals will be regulated soon and the relevant gazette notification is now being prepared. The final draft of the regulation process was presented in mid-January, Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said.According to Minister Senaratne, a case has been filed in courts by private hospitals against regulation, but all private hospitals would be regulated as planned in order to provide a better health service to the public.Accordingly, charges on various surgeries, laboratory investigations and various charges related to delivery (childbirth) will be regulated.

    New circular

    Earlier, the Health Ministry issued rules and regulations for private hospitals.According to rules and regulations, the private hospitals which allow public sector employees to serve in them violating public service rules and regulations will be blacklisted. All private hospitals should issue a detailed bill to all patients. When channelling, a consultant should spend at least 10 minutes on each patient. The doctor should be present at the private hospital at least an hour before and after surgery on a patient.

    The new circular limits the consultation charges levied by private medical institutions. Under the regulations, charges for a consultant or a specialist doctor have decreased and now are between Rs. 250 and Rs. 2,000. The private hospital fee for such consultation should be between Rs.100 and Rs.500. The maximum price of an eye lens should be Rs. 10,000. Every private hospital should display the prevailing consultation charges at a place that can be easily viewed by the public. Raids to detect private hospitals which violate the new circular commenced two weeks after the circular was released.

    Health Ministry sources said that the government has already removed VAT from private hospital charges. Doctors’ charges will also be included in the `package of charges’. Under the regulatory system, the Health Ministry would make arrangements to regulate the charges of 46 different services offered by private hospitals. At the moment, different private hospitals charge different prices for the same surgery or laboratory test.

    The Health Ministry has already received several complaints from the public on extremely high prices charged by some private hospitals. According to one such complaint received by the Health Ministry, over Rs. two million had been charged from patients by certain private hospitals whereas the patients did not recover.

    A report on charges of various services offered by private hospitals had been compiled by KPMG, after examining the charges of 40 private hospitals across Sri Lanka.

    The Private Health Regulatory Council (PHSRC) was established to exercise, perform and discharge its powers, duties and functions under the Private Medical Institutions (Registration) Act No. 21 of 2006, which was certified on July 14, 2006, by Parliament.

    Maintenance of standards

    The PHSRC is aimed at the development and monitoring of standards to be maintained by registered private medical institutions and it acts as a method of evaluation of standards maintained by such private medical institutions. It further aims to ensure the minimum qualifications for recruitment and that minimum standards of training of personnel are adopted by all private medical institutions and to ensure the quality of patient care services rendered or provided by such private medical institutions.

    The Council shall exercise, perform and discharge the following powers, duties and functions in the formulation of quality assurance programmes for patient care in private medical institutions and monitoring of the same and the maintenance of minimum standards for recruitment of all staff engaged or employed in such private medical institutions.

    It is responsible for the collection and publication of relevant health information and statistics and the implementation of a method of grading according to the facilities offered by the respective private medical institutions. Additionally, it has the responsibility of performing any other functions as may be necessary to achieve its objectives. The Act aims at providing for the registration, regulation, monitoring and inspection of private medical institutions, fostering of the development of private medical institutions and providing for matters connected to therewith or incidental thereto.

    The PHSRC is composed of 12 ex-officio members and 16 appointed members forming a total of 28.

    The Private Health Services Regulatory Council was appointed by the then Healthcare and Nutrition Minister on December 26, 2006, with 12 ex-officio members and 16 appointed members. With the change of the portfolio of the Healthcare Ministry to the Health Ministry, some members were re-appointed and some were appointed as new members. PHSRC members meet every month which customarily fall on the afternoon of every second Friday. It has several sub-committees of which the members meet every Friday afternoon other than the second Friday.

    In 2018, a total of 234 private hospitals, private nursing homes and private maternity homes had been registered with the PHSRC. But this year, only 218 of them have been registered to date.

    The rest and the new institutions are yet to be registered or are already closed. The number of private medical centres, private screening centres, private day care medical centres and channel consultation centres registered with the PHSRC was 616. This year, 636 have been registered with the PHSRC. That is an increase of 20 new centres.

    The number of medical laboratories registered with the PHSRC last year was 1,178 and this year only 1,065 of them have been registered. A total of 113 are yet to be registered or already closed, but the deadline for registration was January 31.

    (The public can make complaints on any issue connected to private medical institutions such as private hospitals, private dispensaries and private laboratories to,

    Private Health Services Regulatory Council

    No 2A, CBM House, 4th Floor, Lake Drive, Colombo 08.

    Tel : 011 2672911, 011 2672912

    Fax : 011 2672913)

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    The current chairman of the PHRC is Health Services Director General Dr. Anil Jasinge and the Secretary is Dr. Wasantha Disanayake who is the Private Health Sector Development Director.

    Composition of the PHSRC:

    * Health Services Director General – Chairman (1)

    * Private Health Sector Development Director – Secretary (1)

    * Provincial Health Services Directors (9)

    * Sri Lanka Medical Council (1)

    * Sri Lanka Dental Association (1)

    * Independent Medical Practitioners’ Association (1)

    * Medical Practitioners’ Association (1)

    * Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association - (9)

    * Law Field -(1)

    * Nursing Field -(1)

    * Finance Field -(1)

    * Management Field (1)

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