Docs prefer private clinics over Govt hospitals in Kashmir

Docs prefer private clinics over Govt hospitals in Kashmir

Suhail Khan

SRINAGAR, July 4: Hailing from Budgam, Adil Ahmad, whose father is suffering from liver disease, had to see a doctor in Srinagar. He had 12th number and was told to reach the clinic at 7 in the morning in Srinagar. Knowing that it was not possible to reach early in the morning, he stayed at a relative’s house in Srinagar.

“We are forced to visit private clinics despite there being a selective ban on doctors in Kashmir,” he said, who is a carpenter by profession.

He said that there was no accountability on doctors. “Doctors in Kashmir prefer private practice over government hospitals,” he told news agency (KINS).  

There are scores of doctors who see patients at the private clinics and write prescriptions on plain papers to avoid trouble, which don’t carry their names and other details.

“If a doctor entertains a huge number of patients at his private clinic, with his tired mind what justice can he deliver to patients at hospital,” a retired SKIMS doctor questioned.

The government has banned private practise of principals, medical superintendents, deputy medical superintendents, CMOs and HoDs in government medical colleges, govt dental colleges, and associated hospitals in J&K. According to the norms they are supposed to be stationed at their respective places. In contrary, some of them bluntly violate the norms.

A senior faculty in one of the hospitals writes prescriptions on plain papers. “He can’t do private practice as per the rules. Despite that he indulges in private practice,” an official said.

The private practice stands banned for SKIMS doctors since they get monthly non practicing allowances. The government had imposed a blanket ban on the private practice of doctors at SKIMS after the latter launched an agitation during 2003-2004 demanding they should be treated at par with their counterparts from AIIMS, New Delhi, vis-a-vis salary and other benefits.

These doctors had given sworn affidavits at the time of joining the hospital that they accept the SKIMS rules and will not indulge in private practice. Despite that a good number of doctors resort to private practice.

A strong lobby of the doctors was stopping the government from taking action against them despite authorities being well aware of the medicos who do private practice.

Government has told doctors several times that they have to choose either between keeping their job or private practice and any violation of the directions will be viewed seriously.

In 2011, former chief minister Omar Abdullah had also warned the SKIMS doctors to shun private practise.

“I know who you are; I know your names and the addresses of your clinics. Please, don’t force me to issue an advertisement in the newspaper and seize your clinics,” Omar had warned.

However, till date there seem no visible results on the ground as these medicos are openly running their private clinics and some even work in private hospitals.

In 2017, the government framed a committee for banning private practice of doctors. Principal Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department was appointed as chairman of the committee while Director Health Services Kashmir, Director AIDS Control Society, and Additional Secretary, Health and Medical Education Department,  its members.

Earlier, a Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly panel in 2012 called for imposition of ban on private practice of government doctors, particularly those posted in the government medical colleges and  their associated hospitals.

A Committee of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly in 2015 also asked the government to ensure complete ban on private practice of doctors during office hours and closure of all unregistered medical shops and illegal sex determination centres in J&K.

It has been learnt that some of these doctors are using hospital premises and facilities to treat their private patients.

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