Srinagar: A monitoring committee formed last year to implement the ban on doctors’ private practice has not held even a single meeting despite the state government’s receiving several complaints of many medical practitioners engaged in bending the law.
In August last year, the health department reconstituted a four-member expert committee to implement prohibitory orders on private practice by state-employed doctors. However, no effort has been made either by the department or the state government to make it functional.
The committee was formed following the non-implementation of the 2013 order barring the heads of department (HoDs) of all government medical and dental Colleges from private practice, which most of them indulge in during office hours as well as in the evenings when they are supposed to attend to patients at government-designated evening clinics.
A senior health official told Kashmir Reader that only three HoDs attend patients at Kashmir Nursing Home at Sonwar in Srinagar while at least 15 have to be present at the evening clinics to attend patients.
According to sources, the committee, headed by Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education Pawan Kotwal, was supposed to meet every month to ensure compliance with official orders and decide the punishment against violators, but no meeting was ever held to discuss let alone decide about complaints. Other members of the committee are Director Health Services, Kashmir, Saleem-ur-Rehman, Director AIDS Control Society Mushtaq Ahmad and Additional Secretary Health and Medical Education Department Naseer Ahmad.
“The department was never serious about the monitoring system on private practice. It was disappointing that no meeting was held of the monitoring committee to discuss the issue or decide the future course of action,” said a Health department official.
He said several complaints regarding private practice were sent to the chairman of the committee.
“No action followed the complaints as there was no meeting. The government has left this committee without any powers,” he said.
Private practice by HoDs was banned in 2013 by the then Health Minister, Taj Mohiuddin.
The government has recently taken action against three faculty members of SKIMS Soura after they were caught on camera by a news channel while indulging in private practice even though they are paid a non-practicing allowance (NPA). The government had held the Institute’s Director responsible and removed him following the sting operation.
Private practice is banned for SKIMS doctors as they get a monthly NPA to the tune of 25 percent of their salary and dearness allowance. The government had also imposed a ban on private practice by the heads of department of the state’s government medical colleges.