The Private Hospitals Inspection Committee constituted by the Health Minister to report on the health of private hospitals and nursing homes in Kashmir is falling apart as members are reportedly not inspecting private hospitals as a team.
Pertinently, the Health Minister had constituted a five member committee to carry out inspection of the private hospitals and check whether these health institutions meet the criterion for registration and licensing.
"Not a single inspection was carried out with all the five members on board," said a source. "The members have taken the mandate of the committee non-seriously and are carrying out inspections of the hospitals as if it was a social visit," the source claimed.
When asked about the progress report about the state of private hospitals in Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, Director JKSACS, who is heading the committee, expressed satisfaction with the work done. "Our inspections are almost over. We have inspected all hospitals in almost all districts," he said.
He construed that by the pace of work, the committee would be able to submit its report 'in a fortnight'.
The arbitrary fashion of operation of the committee has raised questions about state's seriousness to tackle the mushroom growth of private hospitals and nursing homes in Kashmir.
"The committee is sporadically visiting the hospitals registered with the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir. It is leaving out many unregistered nursing homes," the source claimed.
"Many such hospitals are operating right under the nose of authorities and these hospitals have no respect for rules. But no one in the committee or the government is ready to take action against these hospitals," said a Medical Officer in Srinagar.
The government decision to scrutinise the operations of private hospitals and nursing homes was seen as an opportunity to end the era of malpractices in health sector but right from the beginning, the Committee composition raised eyebrows.
"There is obvious conflict of interest in the committee. How can a private nursing home owner be expected to pass a fair judgement about nursing homes. Or how can a person who has licensed some of these nursing homes not even a year ago be expected to declare these violators," said a doctor in Srinagar.
While CMOs had been directed to compile list of the private hospitals operational in their areas, Director Health Services Kashmir (DHSK), Dr Sumir Ji Mattoo said that the same was 'going on'. He refused to divulge any further details about the progress of work and said that the core committee would have all the details.
In the past, reports of private hospitals indulging in malpractices such as overcharging, lack of facilities such as blood bank, specialists and infection control have proved detrimental for patients. Allegations of doctors having a 'sinister tie-up' with private hospitals also have a bearing on the working of the committee.
A highly placed official had told Greater Kashmir in October that omission of 'independent members' would have decreased chances of political pressure and corruption on the working of the committee.
The Committee consists of Medical Superintendent, GB Pant Hospital, Dr Shafqat Khan, Deputy Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Abdul Karim, Medical Superintendent B&J Hospital, Dr Abdul Rasheed Badoo, and Director JKSACS Dr. Saleem-ur-Rehman as head.
Pertinently, the committee was to submit its report in a month's time.