'Licensing effectiveness deteriorating':
Alarming disclosure of over 50 percent of private hospitals
More than half of the private hospitals in Sri Lanka are not
licensed, a recent independent research on the quality of the private
health sector has found.
The study yet to be publicised, was conducted by a reputed local
institute which looked into the effectiveness of private medical
institutions licensing as part of its task to profile current activities
of the private sector and the results seems to be alarming.
The research team said that out of the institutions which need to be
licensed as per the laws of the country, hospitals proved to show the
best track record even with less than 50 percent registrations.
"The percentage of laboratories, pharmacies and doctors' clinics
could be even less than that percentage, "a senior member of the study
team told Sunday Observer. Private sector institutions including clinics
and hospitals must renew their licences every year under the present
health regulations. The renewal process obligates medical institutions
to undergo scrutiny.
The research was conducted under the auspices of the Health Ministry
and thus the team had access to the database of the Private Health
Services Regulatory Council (PHSRC), the only body to oversee the
functions and operations of private medical institutions.
The study strove to find answers to 'what institutions are licensed
and how many had been licensed in a particular year, how many had been
licensed in 2011 among other matters.
Since the record for 2012 had not been finalised they did not assess
the situation with regard to the year 2012. The findings are due to be
released in the second half of this year.
The senior researcher said the Private Health Services Regulatory
Council which was set up under the Private Medical Institutions
(Registrations) Act No.21 of 2006, had 'basically exercised none of its
functions in the past six years of its existence'.
The only function which had attempted to carry out was to issue
licences. All other functions such as information collection and quality
standards, had not been done or not even attempted.
"The power to set standards, the power to inspect, the power to
collect information and withdraw licences are all in the present Act."
He said the licensing effectiveness had deteriorated by the year, 'it
is not getting any better, it's getting worse'.
On the positive side he said, "To be fair to the Council, the
officials discussed this issue at every meeting", but he added that it
has not resulted in any action so far.
The PHSRC's membership has also come into question for its
ineffectiveness. Nine members of the Council are elected representatives
of leading private medical institutions including those having
questionable track records.
A former ex-officio member of the Council Dr. N.J. Nonis in an
earlier interview with the Sunday Observer said that a competent
authority should be appointed, instead of the current practice of
seeking the already 'heavily-burdened', 'Provincial Directors of Health
Services' to carry out the PHSRC mandate.