PESHAWAR: The caretaker government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has decided to remove all members of Board of Governors (BoGs) of medical teaching institutions in the province and replace them with professional people, according to sources.
“It has been approved by the provincial caretaker cabinet to remove the BoGs of medical teaching institutions (MTIs) in a stepwise manner and appoint new members through search and nomination committee,” they said.
Sources said that the meeting of provincial caretaker cabinet was attended by secretaries of law and health departments besides other relevant officials that decided to do away with the existing BoGs and replace their members with new people from different professions.
They said that a summary in this regard was already vetted by the law department under which the members of BoGs of all 10 MTIs in the province would be removed. The previous Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had passed Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act (MTIRA) in 2015 to run the teaching hospitals through BoGs instead of health department.
Two members say they will challenge their removal in court
Sources said that members of Policy Board, which was formed under the law to make policies for MTIs, would also be replaced. The MTIRA was challenged in the court by the stakeholders including doctors, nurses and paramedics when it was passed by the assembly. However, Peshawar High Court cleared the law after one year that paved the way for its implementation.
As per law, BoGs are authorised to make top appointments such as medical director, dean, hospital and nursing directors from the market on competitive salaries to run the hospitals and their affiliated medical colleges. A search and nomination committee under the health minister are appointing the BoG members, who work as volunteers without being paid. The all-powerful BoGs have often been criticised by the employees of MTIs. Now the caretaker government has decided to replace their members.
Sources said that the cabinet also took notice of appointment of medical director and dean at MTI Mardan Medical Complex and Ayub Teaching Hospital despite ban by the Election Commission of Pakistan. “The new BoGs will be tasked to look into all such appointments and undo them as these are illegal,” they added.
The removal of BoGs will begin from the province’s biggest hospital Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar, which was the first to see enforcement of the law. The law was subsequently extended to other hospitals. Prof Nausherwan Burki, architect of MTIRA is chairman of BoG of LRH and Policy Board.
“Under the law, the chief minister can remove the BoGs. A summary has been prepared in the light of the previous decision of the courts regarding the powers and functions of the caretaker government,” said sources.
They also said that the tenure of the BoGs was yet to complete and many members could challenge their removal but there was a legal protection and the caretaker government was sure that it could remove them.
Sources said that some of the cabinet members also wanted to do away with MTIRA but they were told by the legal experts that it was not domain of the caretakers and only an elected provincial government could abolish the law. Even if the governor issues ordinance regarding the abolition of MTIRA, it will remain intact for 90 days and ultimately it will be presented before the elected assembly.
They said that the caretaker government, which included members of PMD parties, was under tremendous pressure to do away with MTIRA. They said that the caretaker government opted for replacing the BoGs as it could not abolish the law.
Two members of BoGs told Dawn that they would challenge their removal in the court. “We have been appointed due to our professional credibility and such unceremonious removal will be a sign of disrespect which we would fight,” they added.
Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2023
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