PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has planned disciplinary action against the doctors running private clinics during leave from government duty.

Director-General (Health Services) Dr Shaukat Ali on Saturday formally directed medical superintendents of all government hospitals and district health officers to act against the doctors, who took leave from the department before running private clinics and hospitals.

He issued the directions in a letter titled “revoking unjustified leaves for all medical practitioners simultaneously managing private clinics” over reports that those government employees have got leave from the department but are present in their clinics.

The letter revealed that many medical officers, women medical officers and specialist doctors had taken leaves but practiced privately.

Health dept orders revocation of unjustified leaves

It said that they sit in their private clinics and hospitals located in close proximity to government healthcare facilities which not only creates an embarrassing situation for the department but also risks the lives of patients visiting the public hospitals.

The DG directed authorities to consider all such leaves cancelled with an immediate effect, get those doctors back to work and ensure that they undertake their duties in the “best interest of the public.”

He also sought a comprehensive compliance report from them within a week saying the matter should be treated as top priority.

Meanwhile, health officials told Dawn that the department had already banned public sector doctors from working in private hospitals located in less than 500-metre radius of their hospitals.

They said it had come into the notice of authorities that many doctors were in the habit of working in private hospitals near the health facilities where they were employed.

The officials said that practice on part of doctors had been causing hardships to the patients visiting government hospitals for treatment.

They said it was easy for doctors to work in private hospitals located close to their workplaces impacting patient care and therefore, they were barred from running clinics within the radius of 500 meters from the places of their official duty.

The officials said the action was taken in line with the instruction of the Peshawar High Court, which took notice of the practice in the past as patients suffered due to the absence of doctors from government hospitals who examined people in private clinics.

They said the Health Care Commission had also been asked by the health department to take strict action against the violators of the ban.

The officials said that the doctors had established their clinics near the hospitals where they worked so that they could easily manage both public and private patients.

They said the department had found out in April that a district specialist working in the district headquarters hospital of Upper Dir operated on 775 people for appendicitis under the Sehat Card Plus programme in a nearby private hospital.

The officials said despite an inquiry, the doctor denied conducting operations in the private hospital after leaving his official duty but continued with the practice.

They claimed that only doctors but technicians and other health professionals, too, left government hospitals during duty hours to perform ultrasounds and other pathological tests in private clinics in clear violation of the rules.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2023

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