PESHAWAR: Amid the opposition’s boycott, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Friday approved drastic amendments to the KP Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act, 2015, mainly for setting up a policy board for them and empowering the health minister to issue policy directives to them.

Setting aside the opposition members’ demands to refer the proposed law to the select committee for a detailed discussion, the house approved the bill with a majority vote.

Health minister Dr Hasham Inamullah Khan tabled the bill in the session chaired by Deputy Speaker of the assembly Mehmood Jan.

Amendments allow formation of policy board for hospitals, issuance of policy directives by minister

The significant amendment introduced to the law is the addition of a new section, 16(7), which states, “all employees of Medical Teaching Institution, whether having opted or directly appointed prior to the commencement of MTIR (Amendment) Act, 2018, or pursuant to the MTI Act 2018, shall be at all times governed exclusively by the terms and conditions of service, as may be prescribed by regulations.”

Under the amended law, all MTIs are bound to follow the directives of the health minister, which was not the case under the original law.

For the purpose, Subsection 7(2A) has been added to the law, stating, “The minister for health shall issue such policy and other directives to all MTIs, from time to time, as it deems fit, and all the MTIs shall be bound to act in accordance with such directions.”

Under it, a policy board will be established for all MTIs. Besides performing other functions, it will have the powers to recommend polices to the government for improving the MTI, model regulations and other policies, and establish the minimum qualification standard for all posts in MTIs to ensure merit-based appointments.

Another new component introduced in the law is the establishment of management committees for every MTI.

A new section, 9A, inserted to the law for the purpose, said there would be a management committee headed by dean and consisting of different directors as members including hospital, medical, nursing, finance and two persons nominated by the board on the recommendation of the dean.

Before leading the boycott of the proceedings, leader of the opposition Akram Khan Durrani said the proposed amendments to the law needed more deliberations as doctors had reservations about them.

“Let’s refer the bill to the select committee in which doctors, members of the opposition, officials of the health department will discuss it as in the existing shape, it has many loopholes,” he said.

Mr Durrani warned that if the proposed law was passed without removing the concerns of doctors, strikes could be seen in government hospitals.

He wondered why the government legislate in haste and that, too, without removing flaws.

The opposition leader said junior doctors posted to basic health units got much higher salary then senior doctors working in MTIs.

“If this trend continues, the senior doctors will quit big hospitals with poor patients being the ultimate sufferers,” he said.

The opposition leader said the health system in the province was bound for destruction.

He said the last PTI government repeatedly amended the proposed law, which was made without any deliberation and consultation with stakeholders.

Parliamentary leader of the ANP Sardar Hussain Babak said the MTI law was passed in 2015 but the PTI government introduced 25 amendments to it in the next two years.

“For seeking a collective vision about drastic changes to the MTI, the law should be referred to the select committee,” he said.

Mr Babak warned that the court would issue a stay order against the bill if someone challenged it.

The opposition walked out of the sitting when the health minister refused to incorporate the amendments suggested by it to the law.

Adviser to the chief minister on elementary and secondary education Ziaullah Bangash tabled the KP Employees of the Elementary and Secondary Education Department (Appointment and Regularization of Services) (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

The chair adjourned the session until Dec 26.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2018

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