Doctors cannot use govt infrastructure to build Private Practices: HC
Srinagar: On the matter of government doctors indulging in private practice, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has strictly emphasised that government doctors and professionals cannot be permitted to use their employment and public facilities for building private practices and commercial exploitation.
This observation by the High Court bench of honourable Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta came during the hearing of the petition filed by one concerned who had submitted that several doctors and practitioners working in Government Hospitals have been taking undue advantage of the restrictions imposed by the government as many of the health facilities were closed but doctors were allowed to continue the private practice in the state.
One of the grievances in this application related to the working of the Government Dental College, Srinagar, and Associated Hospitals of Government Medical College, Srinagar.
The applicant informed the bench that initially when restrictions on account of the Covid-19 pandemic had to be imposed, the Government had restricted the functioning of public facilities in Government medical establishments. However, over a period of time, there has been slow opening of these facilities.
It was contended by the applicant that while facilities in the Dental Hospital 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. This application ought to highlight an unfortunate fall out and aspect of the practice prevalent in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir whereby Government Doctors are permitted to carry on with their private practice. The counsel appearing on behalf of the applicant submitted that this permission is used by medical practitioners to build large private practices by diverting patients from Government hospitals to their private clinics.
In response, the counsel for the government refuted the above contentions and the allegations made in the application and sought time to file the reply.
After hearing the submissions made via the application, the HC observed that if what is submitted by the applicant is correct, it suggests the adverse manner in which health services would be made available to patients seeking treatment in Government Hospitals and facilities.
The contended disservice to the residents of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and prejudice to the public interest is a serious matter and the permissibility of permitting private practice to Government Doctors and employees deserves to be seriously re-examined.
"It cannot be denied that it is patient care and public interest which has to be placed on the highest pedestal and optimised Government doctors and professionals cannot be permitted to use their employment and public facilities for building private practices and commercial exploitation. 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."
Judicial notice can be taken of the fact that employment opportunities in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are by far, extremely few, large numbers of people without financial resources and health facilities either not available or insufficient. Such practices as complained by the applicant need to be urgently brought to a halt.
The Court ordered that a copy of the application and observations made in this order be served upon the Chief Secretary of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that the above issue is examined. In the end, the competent authorities were directed to examine the practices which are prevailing in other States and Union Territories on this aspect, of course, after taking into account the limitations on medical facilities available in the Union Territory of the Jammu & Kashmir.