Bhubaneswar: While the Odisha government is all set to take stringent action against SUM Hospital authorities for the tragic death of 21 patients in a major fire that broke out in the hospital in the night on October 17, an exclusive OTV report has established that the hospital authorities have renewed the hospital licence without having Fire Safety Certificate two months after the rules in this regard were framed by the state government.
Apart from SUM Hospital, all private hospitals and clinics have meticulously flouted fire safety norms despite the directive by the Fire Services and Health departments. However, the Health department is yet to take any action against these hospitals.
Notably, the Odisha government, in an order on May 6 this year had made it clear that licenses of hospitals would not be renewed without Fire Safety Certificate.
However, in gross violation of the directive, the Khurda district administration had granted renewal of licence to the SUM Hospital two months later on July 7 despite being aware that the hospital had no Fire Safety Certificate.
Taking note of the major fire in AMRI Hospital in Kolkata on December 10, 2011 in which 89 people were killed, the Odisha government had formulated of fire safety guidelines for private hospitals and clinics in the state.
To implement the guidelines, Director General, Fire Services in a letter to the Director, Medical Education & Training (DMET) on April 24, 2014, had asked to make Fire Safety Certificate mandatory for all private hospitals and clinics. He had also recommended DMET to take steps to cancel clinical establishment licenses of the private hospitals within 2-3 months if they do not have Fire Safety Certificate.
On the basis of the recommendation, the Health department, in a letter to all Chief District Medical Officers (CDMOs) on May 14, 2015, had directed to ask all private hospitals in their district to strictly implement the guidelines.
Later on January 15, 2015, the Health department had formed a committee and framed specific fire safety guidelines for each private hospital as per the recommendation of the committee.
On February 28, 2015, the Health department had again written a letter to the CDMOs asking them to obtain Fire Safety Clearance Certificate from the private hospitals. Sadly, the directive of the department remained in pen and paper as most private hospitals are found running sans Fire Safety Certificate.
The Health department is now waiting for the Clinical Establishment (Amended) Act wherein stern action has been provisioned for violation of Fire Service guidelines. Though the amendment in the Act has been passed in the State Assembly, rules have not been framed.
Now the question is whether the rules acted as impediments for the Health department to take action against the erring private hospitals or the department had deliberately remained silent.