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‘Urgently Halt’ Private Practice By Doctors Of Govt Hospitals: HC

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Srinagar, Sept :Jammu and Kashmir High Court has called for “urgent halt” to the private practice by the doctors of government hospitals and directed the administration to seriously “examine” it.          Hearing an application, a bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta ordered it while observing that “judicial notice” can be taken of the fact that employment opportunities in J&K are by far extremely few and large numbers of people are without financial resources while health facilities are either not available or insufficient. The court passed the directions and made the observations after the counsel for the applicant said that the working of the Government Dental College Srinagar, and Associated Hospitals of Government Medical College Srinagar have not been as it ought to be. “We are informed 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,” the court said. The applicant submitted that several doctors and practioners working in Government Hospitals have taken undue advantage of the restrictions imposed by the Government.The applicant also contended 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 seeks to highlights an unfortunate fall out and aspect of the practice prevalent in Jammu and Kashmir whereby Government Doctors are permitted to carry on with their private practice,” the court said, and reordered in its order submissions by the counsel for applicant that this permission is used by medical practioners to build large private practices by diverting patients from Government hospitals to their private clinics.However Shah Aamir, Additional Advocate General, refuted the contentions and the allegations and seeks time to file the reply. “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 court said, adding, “The contended disservice to the residents 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, the court said, that it is patient care and public interest which has to be placed on the highest pedestal and optimized. “Government doctors and professionals cannot be permitted to use their employment and public facilities for building private practices and commercial exploitation,” the court said, adding, “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.” It further said: “Jucicial notice can be taken of the fact that employment opportunities in the 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 its order be served upon the Chief Secretary of J&K “to ensure that the above issue is examined.” “The competent authorities shall 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 J&K,” the court said.

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