3,256 healthcare facilities operating without registration
A recent report published in this daily sheds light on the dreadful reality regarding licence renewal—or its absence thereof—of private hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres. Following the Regent Hospital scam, private medical facilities were given a month's time to renew their licences by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on July 23. One month on, around 3,500 private medical facilities still did not bother to apply to renew their licences. At present, 3,256 are pending renewal after completing the formalities, 2,674 are waiting for inspection by officials, and 1,736 other facilities have already been inspected.
It is mortifying that two-thirds of the country's over 15,000 private clinics and diagnostic centres had been running without any valid licence since 2018. The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) began "digitalising" the process of the renewal of licences in 2018, but progress was at a snail's pace—with scanty staff responsible for thousands of institutions. However, there can be no excuse for allowing institutions to run illegally, jeopardising the lives and wellbeing of millions of patients.
For far too long, these illegally operating institutions have enjoyed impunity, with authorities turning a blind eye towards their highly questionable and criminal practices. This must end now. It is totally unacceptable that healthcare facilities are allowed to operate without licences as it poses grave risks to those who are seeking treatment in those facilities, especially given the fact that our healthcare system is already in crisis mode. The government must look into the matter with urgency and take stern action against institutions that are not abiding by the rules. At the same time, it must ensure that the inspection process is free of corruption.