Srinagar: Four days after an altercation between a female journalist and a surgeon at SMHS Hospital, the administration of Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar on Tuesday issued an order to ban entry of journalists in all associated hospitals. The order said that the presence of journalists in hospitals was “detrimental to patient care”.
“In the interest of patient care and smooth function of institutions, it is impressed upon all Medical Superintendents of Associated Hospitals that they shouldn’t allow any journalist to enter the wards or operation theatres especially at the time of ward rounds or management of mass casualties,” reads the order issued by Principal and Dean GMC Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid.
“It has come to the notice of undersigned that press reporters of various news agencies are frequently visiting hospitals and unwarrantedly entering into wards/sections and other critical areas without seeking proper permission from the competent authority, that too during clinical rounds and conducting of investigative procedure, (which hampers doctors) while performing their professional duties, besides patients, too, feel harassed. The undue interference of media personnel is detrimental to the outcome of patient care,” the order further reads.
It said any press briefings “desirable for mass awareness of the public would be conveyed by the Medical Superintendents at an appropriate time.”
Dr Samia told Kashmir Reader that she was forced to issue the order after recent incidents of confrontation between doctors and persons “posing as reporters”.
“Everyone has been posing as a journalist these days. They enter critical areas, including operation theaters, with their boots on. They even film patients during surgeries, which is highly unethical because patients also have some kind of privacy,” she said.
She said that some persons posing as journalists even fight with doctors inside wards.
“This has been happening for quite some time. I thought people will mend their ways but they didn’t, so I was forced to issue such an order so that there is no disturbance in the hospital,” she said.
However, she said that Medical Superintendents were at liberty to talk to journalists and give permissions whenever they feel it is appropriate.
“I have authorised Medical Superintendents of GMC Srinagar and associated hospitals to talk to media and issue permits to media for filming inside the hospital,” Dr Samia said.
While the doctors’ association welcomed the move, the diktat met with strong criticism from many journalists on social media, who termed it “nonsensical” and “unfortunate”.
“So it’s official: Nonsense to prevail at GMC associated hospitals as Govt bans entry of journalists there,” wrote journalist Majid Hyderi on Facebook. Another senior journalist, Peerzada Aashiq, wrote: “If barring media from SMHS (hospital) is an outcome of any ego clash, it needs to be opposed. At the same time, no journalist should cross the red line in his professional duty. Having said that, accountability and transparency should be at the core of public institutions like SMHS (hospital). The hospital needs to come up with a mechanism to allow fair scrutiny of this public institution.”
Other social media users also condemned the order, terming it a “pre-planned move” to hide negligence and mismanagement in government-run hospitals.