Doctors reluctant to accept private practice ban


Srinagar: With the Jammu and Kashmir government having issued strict instructions to the doctors not to indulge in the private practice, it seems that the senior consultants are reluctant to accept it and are busy in private practice even during the official hours.

Reliable sources told KNS that the government directions have no impact on the ground and the doctors especially senior consultants at the prestigious institutes including the SKIMS, SMHS, Bone and Joint hospital, JVC are regularly indulging in private practice even during office hours.

Sources within the health department said that it has been observed that at least two to three consultants from each department of the hospitals practice in private clinics even during the office hours.

On Thursday when this reporter went to a private diagnostic lab at Lalchock, he found that a senior consultant was seen practicing up to 11 am before he headed for the hospital.

At another clinic the doctor was to see the patients from 3pm. “This is the normal routine of the consultants who are found in the hospital only between 12 pm and 03 pm. None in administration is ready to take action against them,” said one of the officials of the health department.

He said that there are many consultants who are available in the hospitals only between 12am to 3pm. “The rampant private practice has caused inconvenience to the patients”.

Meanwhile junior resident doctors alleged that there are “two different rules” for consultants and registers indulging in private practice in the state. “When the authorities learn about the junior doctor doing the private practice, they are punished; however, when senior doctors indulge in private practice even during office hours, no action is taken against them,” one of the junior doctor posted in SMHS hospital said.

Sources also allege that the senior doctors especially cardiologists are never available on-call during the night as they practice in private nursing homes late nights.

In January 2013, private practice was banned in tertiary care hospitals under the ambit of Government Medical College (GMC). The ban was confined to HoDs under GMC.

In August 2014 the High Court noted that government may extend restrictions to other posts as well in view of patient interest.

Evening OPDs were also initiated by then NC-Congress government at Gupkar Nursing Home to cater to the load and also offer ‘government run’ private clinics. But the initiative had no takers.

Similarly the PDP-BJP government recently announced a blanket ban on private practice by heads of the departments of state medical and dental colleges, while threatening ‘strict disciplinary action’ against the violators.

The Circular 02 of 2016 dated 13-06-2016 reads, ‘HoDs in Government Medical Colleges, and Government Dental Colleges and Associated Hospitals of the state not to indulge in private practice.’

Advocating the blanket ban on private practice, one of the senior doctors at SMHS hospital terms the trend as the mother of all evils. “It’s taking a toll on patient care system here. These doctors should either quit the government job or private practice,” he said.

The patients said that the senior doctors have to be available all time. “Life and death is a matter of seconds. By the time senior doctor reaches hospital from his clinic, the patient might have expired.” They said.

However the doctors advocate that a blanket ban cannot be imposed on private practice. “A patient always wants consultation of a senior doctor. He doesn’t want to be seen by a junior doctor who is himself learning medicine,” one of the doctors said. (KNS)

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