Action on SKIMS doctors: Medico bodies question govt’s move

Srinagar: With government Saturday evening suspending three faculty members of SKIMS, and even going a step ahead by attaching Director SKIMS Dr A G Ahanger to General Administration Department (GAD), the government action is being widely criticized and termed as ‘illogical’ at the same time.

According to a Government order issued on Saturday, “Prof.(Dr.) Altaf Kirmani, Dean & Head, Department of General Surgery; Dr. Mushtaq Ahmad Wani, Head, Department of Neurology and Dr. Wajid Ali, Head, Department of Neonatology, SKIMS, Soura have been placed under suspension for violating norms of ‘not practicing’ while serving the SKIMS.”

Three faculty members were put under suspension after reports that they were indulged in private practice even after getting Non-Practicing Allowances (NPA).

The Government has also ordered the attachment of Director, SKIMS, Prof. (Dr.) A. G. Ahangar with the General Administration Department till further orders, with Pavan Kotwal, Principal Secretary to Government, Health & Medical Education, taking the additional charge of Director SKIMS till further orders.

What is being termed as illogical is the attachment of Director SKIMS, which, as per experts, is going to affect the administrative functioning of the Institute.

In 2009, the Doctors of SKIMS were on radar for indulging in private practice, however, at that time no action was taken against the violators, instead, after the reports, Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar, the then Director SKIMS, had designated Joint Director of the hospital as Vigilance Officer and had asked the practicing doctors to abide by law.

At that time, the government did not initiate any action against the Director SKIMS, but the government action this time around has shocked many. The Resident Doctors Association (RDA) of SKIMS Monday said that the Director has been routinely warning the faculty members not to indulge in private practice, as was done by the former Director SKIMS, Dr Abdul Hamid Zargar.

“We maintain that Director SKIMS has time and again warned faculty members against private practice and asked people to inform that administration, if they find so,” RDA said in statement.

Doctor’s Association of Kashmir (DAK) also said that Director SKIMS has time and again warned all the Faculty members against private practice “he asked common public to inform the administration if they are indulging in the same through various notices which have already been issued several times in leading newspapers but unfortunately there was no response,” reads DAK statement.

Also, the government, as of now, has not come clear on the future course of action in case of the doctors, who have been placed under suspension, making the issue to linger around a bit.

The government in 2001 passed an ordinance aiming at banning the private practice of SKIMS doctors to ensure smooth functioning of the SKIMS hospital. The ordinance says that any violation of the ban will come under the definition of criminal misconduct as per the Criminal Law (amendment) Ordinance, 2001.

“Whosoever abets or aids in the omission of criminal misconduct under Section 1-A or allows his/her premises or nursing homes to be used for private practice in contravention of the said sub-section, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend up to rupees 10, 000,” the ordinance says further.

Which means, if the doctors who were indulged in private practice and have been put under suspension, means that they will be terminated, and if that happens, the three departments: General Surgery, Neonatology and Neonatology, will, as per sources, face de-recognition as per MCI guidelines.

“I cannot comment on further course of action, it will be as per the code of conduct of the institute and that of the ordinance by the state government,” said DAK President, Dr Suhail Naik, adding “the action against Director SKIMS is illogical and that he should be reinstated immediately.”

In 2009, there was a list of doctors which was carried by a national newspaper stating names of all those doctors of SKIMS who was indulged in private practice then. Those who were suspended on Saturday had also featured in the list. However, at that time, the government had miserably failed to take any action.

“Private practice of such doctors was not something hidden. It was an open secret, which is now being used for other different purposes,” said a Senior Doctor wishing anonymity.

While raising questions on the attachment of Director SKIMS, that too without any preliminary inquiry into the matter—in order to look deeper for his role in the issue—Dr Suhail Naik said “It astonishes us that highly capable director and of premier institute of North India is attached without preliminary inquiry in a knee jerk response and is surprising that he was sacked within hours without giving him time to give any clarification.”

“The attachment of Director SKIMS, while three faculty member were at fault, is raising eye brows. The move seems to be highly politically motivated where the head of SKIMS was made a scapegoat,” the DAK President added.


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