One year on, govt yet to enforce medics’ protection law

Published December 2, 2021
Associations of doctors and paramedics have been urging the government to implement the law to check perpetrators of violence in hospitals.
 — AFP/File
Associations of doctors and paramedics have been urging the government to implement the law to check perpetrators of violence in hospitals. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The government is yet to implement a law meant to protect health workers against violence in hospitals and ensure patients’ rights despite its passage by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly one year ago.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Service Providers and Facilities (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act, 2020 was passed by the provincial assembly in December last year but it has not been implemented so far.

The law has been enacted in view of the endless series of violence against healthcare workers by relatives of patients in hospitals. Doctors, nurses and paramedics have been observing strikes in healthcare institutions due to the attacks.

The incidents prompted the health department to come with a law to give protection to the health workers so that patients could get unhampered treatment. Under the law, the violators would face heavy fine and jail terms.

The special secretary health, Dr Syed Farooq Jamil, who led the team that drafted the law, told Dawn that it would be enforced soon after fulfilment of necessary formalities.

“The assembly has passed it and rules have been framed now which have been sent to law department for vetting,” he said. Once the rules are vetted, those will be sent to provincial cabinet for approval.

The law would be implemented to ensure protection of health staff against the attacks and pave way for smooth healthcare services in hospitals, he added.

Read more: Proposed law to protect medics from violence in KP hospitals

Associations of doctors and paramedics have been urging the government to implement the law to check perpetrators of violence in hospitals.

“Most of our staffers fear for their lives during duty hours due to the brutalities committed by relatives of the patients under the misconception that their patients are mistreated,” an office-bearer of the Provincial Doctors Association said.

He said that health department and Khyber Medical University played key role in drafting the law. He added that it was now up to the government to enforce the law.

He said that the law had been approved by the assembly after years of struggle and incorporation of several amendments to tighten safety of the health workers but delaying its implementation was creating unrest among the stakeholders.

He said that protection of healthcare providers at the workplace was desperately required for the sake of more effective and focused care of patients. About a dozen incidents occurred only in the current year in which the health professionals were beaten up but due to coronavirus pandemic, the medics avoided going on strikes and harming patients, he said.

Under section-3 of the law, any act of violence against healthcare providers or damage to property in a healthcare service institution is punishable. Anyone, who commits any act in contravention of it, will be punished with imprisonment of three years along with fine of up to Rs50,000.

Its sub-section-1 says that the offender shall be liable to pay to the healthcare service institution a compensation of twice the amount of purchase price of medical equipment damaged and the loss caused to the property as may be determined by the court trying the offence.

According to the law, if the offender does not pay the compensation under sub-section-2, the said sum shall be recovered as if it is an arrear of land revenue due from him. Any offence committed under section 3 shall be cognisable and non-bailable, it says.

The sub-section says that the provisions of the law would be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in vogue.

Not only protection of healthcare providers, but the law also makes it binding on healthcare institutions to give complete information of medical treatment to patients.

According to the piece of legislation, it shall be the responsibility of each healthcare service institution to furnish, in writing, complete information about medical treatment provided by such healthcare service institutions, to the patients, who seek treatment in the said institutions or to their designated relatives.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2021

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