Srinagar: The government has terminated the services of 150 doctors who were found absent from duty and are reportedly working outside Jammu and Kashmir. Minister for Health and Medical Education Aasiya Naqash told Kashmir Reader that a termination notice would be published in newspapers soon.
The PDP’s minister also called for a “debate” on whether doctors working in government hospitals should be allowed private practice. Kashmir’s SKIMS Hospital has already banned private practice of its doctors. However, many complaints have been pouring in about doctors violating the ban order.
Aasiya said that doctors working at SKIMS should understand their “stature”, given that the hospital was set up to produce quality research on medical sciences.
The SKIMS director, she said, has powers to act against the violators.
“The director has been told to check (the issue) as the institution is an autonomous working body and he cannot refer his responsibility to others,” she told Kashmir Reader.
The minister, however, said that she had not received any complaint of SKIMS doctors doing private practice. Research at SKIMS has been affected due to the absence of doctors, she said, but added that the hospital cannot follow an AIIMS-like policy of refusing admission to patients.
“We have no AIIMS (New Delhi) culture here where certain patients are admitted and others referred to elsewhere,” she said.
Responding to a question as to why doctors show unwillingness to work in rural areas, Aasiya said that rural hospitals do not lack infrastructure but doctors don’t want to move out of Srinagar.
Asked about the large number of referrals to Srinagar hospitals, she said, “People have faith in SMHS, SKIMS, Lal Ded hospitals.”
“And in many cases, patients are ignorant. That is why they come to Srinagar,” she added.
Maintaining that the “main reason” for transfers in the health sector was the “prevailing security situation”, the minister confessed that construction work in the sector is going at “slow pace”. “There is no dearth of funds,” she asserted.
She further informed that a special meeting is being held in a few days, which the chief minister will attend, to increase the workforce for health care. “We are constructing five new medical colleges which need human resource. Besides, there are vacancies (in existing health facilities),” she said.