It has always been a matter of convenience, familiarity and reassurance for patients in Thiruvananthapuram to approach their family doctors in a private practice setting.
However, things may soon change with a trade licence fee being imposed on such doctors.
Thiruvananthapuram Municipal Corporation has come forward with a trade licence fee to be levied on all doctors who have a private practice setting in their residences within the municipal corporation.
This can be problematic for both patients and doctors.
Dr C John Panicker, President of Indian Medical Association Trivandrum told TNM, â€śThe problem with this trade fee is that if itâ€™s established the electricity and water bill of residences will be charged according to the commercial establishment rates. This is unacceptable given how most doctors conduct the private practices without any commercial gains.â€ť
Dr G S Vijayakrishnan, Secretary of Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) said, â€śDoctors having private practices in their houses are doing so at a reasonable rate. Moreover, the doctors do not charge a fee if the consultation is only for taking a medical opinion.â€ť
Doctors from both public and private health service sectors have their private practices in the city. Both categories of doctors already pay professional tax to the corporation.
â€śAdvocates and chartered accountants who have practices at home are not charged with any such tax or fee by the corporation. If trade licence is to be applied to doctors it should apply to them as well,â€ť said Dr Vijayakrishnan
The Kerala Government Service doctors are allowed by the government to practice in their residences. This has been done with an aim to provide affordable and accessible treatment for people beyond the working hours of the government hospitals.
According to the Kerala Clinical Establishments Act of 2017 doctors are allowed to have private practices.
The imposition of the trade licence fee by the corporation will go against this Act.
Dr John Panicker said, â€śIf the corporation is collecting all the already established taxes from all avenues that will be ten times more than what they would get by imposing trade tax on doctors. This is the negligence of the corporation itself for not having enough revenue generation by collecting the existing taxes.â€ť
As of now KGMOA and IMA have decided that if the fee comes into existence they will completely stop all private practice till the fee is revoked.
The public will be adversely affected if private practices are stopped as they will be forced to approach the private hospitals for treatment.
KGMOA and IMA are awaiting a decision from the Mayor Adv V K Prasant in response to their submitted concerns. Further decisions on protest will be made based on the response from the Mayor.
The Mayor was not available for comments.