Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said the Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) Act/Ordinance was not an attempt to privatise public sector hospitals but meant to "enable improved and modern management of public sector hospitals".
His statement comes after the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Ordinance 2019 was promulgated this week.
In a post shared on Twitter, Prime Minister Imran clarified that the process was part of a public sector hospitals' reform plan.
"The hospitals will remain government hospitals. Better managed hospitals will mean better facilities for patients," he added.
The Punjab MTI (Reforms) Ordinance 2019, drafted on the pattern of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s MTI Act, was promulgated after the Punjab governor signed it on Monday with the approval of the premier.
Following the move, medical practitioners, opposition political parties and social circles decried the ordinance with associations of young doctors, nurses and paramedics pledging to resist the move. The PML-N had announced that it would take the issue to a court of law while PPP threatened to protest the move and raise the issue in the Punjab Assembly.
According to the MTI Ordinance, the government hospitals would be run by a fully empowered Board of Governors (BoGs) which would consist entirely of members from the private sector.
"The BoGs shall also have powers for the appointment of admin officials on key slots and appointment of senior faculty members. The post of principal shall be converted into Dean who shall be appointed by the BoG for a period of five years," it stated.
Similarly, the document said, there would be a management committee for each hospital, consisting of a hospital director, medical director, nursing and finance directors and two members nominated by the BoG.
Earlier, an official said that during a meeting in Lahore on Monday the prime minister admonished Punjab Health Minister Prof Dr Yasmin Rashid for the delay in the enforcement of the MTI Act. The official said the health minister had informed the premier that the MTI bill could not be tabled in the provincial assembly due to expected agitation of the opposition political parties.
He added that Prime Minister Imran expressed his displeasure over the state of healthcare in the government hospitals of Punjab and gave a 15-day deadline to the minister to bring about improvements. Consequently, the ordinance was promulgated without further delays.