INTERVIEW | ‘No One Will Suffer Because of Private Practice Ban’

THE Doctor’s Association Kashmir(DAK) has welcomed an expert panel Chawla Committee report—which had highlighted some undebated issues—on its recommendations of laying a complete ban on Private practice, suggesting that it has hampered development of J&K’s medical infrastructure.

Notably, on the directions of the High Court, the expert panel had visited Kashmir to ascertain the availability of healthcare facilities, human resources and identify the shortcomings.

In its newly published report, the expert panel has suggested several recommendations that have been aimed at bringing changes in the working of medical facilities in J&K including more powers to the Principles of GMC as well a ban of the private practice by the doctors.

The report has revealed that the panel has found out that medical colleges whose faculty members are practicing in the private sector, do not develop research and academics.

“Private practice should be banned in principle,” reads the report. “It should be incorporated into the college statutes and should be made an offense; those already recruited can be offered a golden handshake if they are unwilling to stop the private practice.”

However, in an exclusive interview with Kashmir Observer, senior physician and spokesperson Doctor’s Association Kashmir, Dr. Riyaz Dagga explained why DAK has welcomed the Chawla committee report and why ban on private practice will bring a change into Kashmir’s health sector.

Why should private practice of government doctors be banned?

Our hospitals like Government Medical Colleges or SKIMS aren’t just hospitals. They’re also institutes for medical education. At these institutes, we don’t just treat our patients but also carry out extensive research on diseases and viruses.

Now, when our doctor starts his private practice early in the morning and ends it before the hospital hours, he’s completely exhausted by the time he arrives at the hospital.

And because of that, he’s unable to provide the necessary patient care and similarly fails to teach students or even carry out proper research. That doctor is only coming to the hospital to relax and have a cup of coffee.

These institutions are our factory from where our new generation of doctors comes out. If because of such private practices, their education suffers, then there is no way that our health infrastructure will improve.

We cannot afford to make our new generation of doctors suffer because of such practices.

But these doctors aren’t violating any rule, so why shouldn’t they work at their private clinics?

Certainly, they aren’t violating any rule as they carry out their hospital shifts as per the given schedule. However, when the same doctor has seen dozens of patients at his/her private clinic, there is absolutely no way that the same doctor will take care of his/her patient in a laid down manner.

That is why the patient care at the Government hospital suffers.

How is private practice hampering the government medical sector and private sector? 

Let’s say there’s one specific doctor who’s working in a Government hospital and the same person is also practicing at a private care then no new doctor, who wishes to work only in a private sector, will ever be able to get a job in a private or even government hospital because such doctors have occupied both the spaces.

In Kashmir, a new kind of amusement has taken over doctors. For them, working in a private hospital is nothing more than an advertisement. They’ve kept some specific agents at the hospital who, on seeing a patient, poison their minds against Government hospitals and ask them to visit the same doctor in a private hospital even though the cure for their disease is the same at both the places.

If private practice is banned, then an abrupt change can be seen. The number of jobs in medical institutions will simultaneously improve and so will both the private and Government sector flourish.

Has private practice affected patients?

A simple cholecystectomy surgery can be performed anywhere both in Government and private hospitals. Due to the massive rush of surgeries performed at Government hospitals, these agents lure a patient into believing that he/she will operate immediately at a private care facility. But, the main reason for delay in surgeries in Government hospitals is that these doctors don’t perform a required number of surgeries at a Government facility.

They can perform ten operations at a private hospital but when it comes to Government hospitals, they hardly perform three operations even though the number of medical experts accompanying the doctor is higher in Government hospitals than in a private one and that is how the backlog of people who’re to be operated on keeps on growing in Government hospitals.

How will this ban help doctors?

After this ban, the doctors are liable to enjoy benefits of NPA (Non-practice allowance) which is currently being paid to doctors at SKIMS. Those doctors who will work in the Government sector will also have an increment in the salary. No one will suffer because of this ban.

What are DAK’s demands?

Government should immediately ban private practices and create segregation between doctors working at a private facility and those working at a government hospital.

In that way, both the sectors will gradually improve, doctors will be paid better, jobs in the health sector will increase and the patients will also not suffer.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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