HC censures private practice, commercial exploitation by doctors

Underscoring that the government doctors cannot be permitted to “use their employment for private practice and commercial exploitation”, J&K High Court has asked the Chief Secretary to examine this issue.

While hearing an application in a Public Interest Litigation on Covid-19, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta said: “. . .  Government doctors and professionals cannot be permitted to use their employment and public facilities for building private practices and commercial exploitation”.

In its plea, J&K Peoples Form through its general secretary M M Shuja has raised various issues related to Covid-19. Advocate Shafqat Nazir on behalf of the Forum informed the court as to how the private practice by government doctors was plaguing the healthcare.

AAG Shah Aamir sought time to file reply on behalf of respondents.

Urging that patient care and public interest have to be placed on the highest pedestal, the court said: “Attending to lucrative private practices has to resultantly diminish and detract from the attention which a professional would pay to his salaried public position as a government doctor”.

The court said a copy of the application highlighting private practice and the observations it made in the order be served to Chief Secretary for examining the issue.

The applicant submits that several doctors and working in government hospitals “have taken undue advantage” of the restrictions. “Senior doctors and consultants do not care about the extraordinary situation but are still busy in their  private clinics and nursing homes charging

hefty money from non-Covid patients for whom there is no facility available in government hospitals,” he said.

“While facilities in the Dental Hospital Srinagar are closed and no procedures are being performed, several doctors and practitioners employed in the hospital are carrying out all those procedures in their private clinics,” the applicant said.

The application submits that in J&K the government doctors are permitted to carry on with their private practice which has a bad fallout.  “This permission is used by medical practitioners to build large private practices by diverting patients from government hospitals to their private clinics”.

The petitioners pleads that the entire bureaucratic system in J&K has failed to give relief to general public.

“The Disaster Management System is carried out in a selective and unprofessional manner with the result the disaster management appears to be in disastrous situation” he pleads.

He submits that the entry of outside labourers in J&K without proper testing and quarantine procedure is alarming as hundreds  of labourers have tested positive in Budgam and other districts of  Valley.

“… the authorities have not been able to procure  additional ventilators, life saving drugs and medical equipment for  the newly created medical colleges and existing hospitals.”