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PESHAWAR: The inquiries, conducted on the directives of Supreme Court of Pakistan, have found financial irregularities, violation of merit in recruitment and promotion of staff at the hospitals and medical colleges where the government had enforced Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act, 2015.

The health department has submitted the reports to Supreme Court of Pakistan regarding the inquiries ordered in June. The health department has been instrumental in strengthening of the MTI-covered hospitals and wanted the Board of Governors to run the tertiary care hospitals and enable it to focus fully on improvement of primary and secondary level health facilities.

Senior officials at the medical teaching institutions said that health department’s role was helpful because it facilitated smooth availability of funds and legal advice wherever needed.

Health dept conducted inquiries in affairs of hospitals and medical colleges on orders of court

“Lately, equipment worth Rs3 billion have been provided to the primary and secondary level hospitals by health department while its role is of supervisory level as far as the MTIs are concerned,” they said.

Sources told Dawn that reports concerning nine inquiries were completed.

In June, the health department launched probe into appointments and promotions made in the public sector medical teaching institutions during the past three years on the directives of Supreme Court of Pakistan.

They said that the inquiries were related to misappropriation of power, financial embezzlement, violation of merit in appointments and promotion after the promulgation of the Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act, 2015 in the province.

The new system allows the BoGs to exercise unbridled powers with regard to all affairs of the hospitals and medical colleges under their jurisdiction.

The report has been submitted to the human right cell of Peshawar registry of Supreme Court of Pakistan that had ordered the health department to complete the same by June 30.

Sources said that the new system was implemented with support of health department to improve tertiary care in the province and upgrade medical education but it was misused by the people, who remained at the helm of affairs due to which many individuals submitted applications to the court.

Some of the inquiries order by the court were disposed of by the health department immediately because the same lacked substance and therefore didn’t need further investigations.

However, many genuine complaints, lodged by the employees of MTIs, were probed thoroughly where illegal appointments and promotion were detected.

The health department, which has been supporting the MTIRA 2015, conducted preliminary investigations in the light of the court’s instructions and then began full-scale probe into matters where evidence existed. The committee including special secretary of health department, additional secretaries of finance and establishment departments and chief executive officer of Postgraduate Medical Institute had been tasked to look into each and every appointment and promotion since the implementation of the MTIRA, 2015.

Following court’s order, the health department sent a letter to former chief secretary Mohammad Azam Khan wherein it had described the MTIRA, 2015 a wonderful law to improve the health delivery system in the province and suggested its further strengthening.

However, sources said that the high-powered committee, which conducted the probe, found that in most of the cases rules of Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, Service and General Rules hadn’t been taken into account in making recruitments and promotion to higher grades and other matters.

The chief secretary had empowered the committee members to check the credentials of the candidates, who were appointed or promoted, sources said.

The BoGs, which called the shots at the hospitals after enforcement of MTIRA 2015, had made such appointments and promotion mostly through internal committees specially constituted at the respective institutions, they said.

The findings have also been sent to the MTIs where the new BoGs will be constituted after formation of the new government. It is expected to take action in this regard.

Most of the BoGs, sources said, also remained unaware of the irregularities committed by respective committees tasked to look into promotions and appointments and upgradation of infrastructure.

Published in Dawn, August 10th, 2018