Question is not of banning private practice by Govt doctors but is of withdrawing relaxation
- Revise Pay of Government doctors if needed, but provision for private practice or NPA is not fair
Many in ‘private’ conversations could be seen suggesting that over drugging, undue clinical investigations, failure of programmes like Jan Aushadi Store (PMBJAP) due to even government doctors not writing prescription by chemical name / generic name , poor functioning of diagnostic apparatus in government hospitals , protests by attendants of patients/ junior doctors in government hospitals and like anti public issues could be checked to a great extent in case orders allowing private practice to government doctors in relaxation of conduct rules for government employees are withdrawn. Inspite of government spending crores of rupees on the wages and health infrastructure , what to talk of the common man, even superior bureaucrats and the political masters appear having lost faith in the dependability of government health services, why ?
Whenever some proposals for exercising reforms for improving the services from government health institutions like that of “withdrawing the relaxations” given in conduct rules allowing private practice to government doctors appear to be under consideration rumors about doctors thinking of taking retirement start surfacing. Private practice by government doctors has been banned twice in J&K during Governor rule but no doctor had resigned.
No doubt relaxation in conduct rules allowing private practice to some government doctors was made by governments at times in past for greater public interest to meet odd location/ hour emergencies / needs but surely it was not for increasing the income of doctors in government service as some people appear suggesting when ever governments have expressed desires ( in view of falling stands of delivery of services from government hospitals) for withdrawing the relaxation given to some government doctors in conduct rules.
No, doubt government has authority to make/modify service rules but no government in a democratic country is expected to ignore the basic principles and codes that are must for one who has to handle the common resources / provisions of the State financed out of state funds..
So, the question that needs be addressed to is —<-Is private practice, as is/ was allowed to doctors of government hospitals and government medical colleges in J&K and some other Indian States only in the interest social cause or it is simply for allowing doctors to increase their income? If it is not for increasing income then there is no justification also for giving non practicing allowance( NPA) to government doctors who are not allowed private practice. But in actual practice mere relaxation for private practice in and around the place of residence has been converted by some doctors in a way toa full fledged business enterprise , many of the private clinics / hospitals are functional only with the support of government doctors and that is not fair>.
And if the relaxation given for private practice is to increase income, then the private work/enterprise if also allowed (before and after office hours) to atleast low paid government employees (peons and clerks) will surely help them to meet the needs of education and health of their children in a better way.
No doubt if it is assessed that pay scales /wages of government doctors are less and the public exchequer can afford more, let higher salary be paid to government doctors, but allowing private practice private enterprise for increasing income or Non Practicing Allowance (NPA) where private practice is not allowed do not sound logical under present circumstances. The post graduate doctors and those in the medical colleges, if justified, could be given special grades even no way less (even more) than superior bureaucrats in case they comparatively deserve and state can afford so. The government jobs are not part time and so why Non Practicing Allowance ( NPA) ? So, strangely even Doctors in Defence forces are paid NPA ( non practicing allowance), why ?
Otherwise any government servant one who has need and desires can work after office hours to increase his/ her income, one could be a Medical Assistant / Nurse, an Engineer , an Accounts Officer, an officer with degree of law, an officer with M Com / B Com, and like but as per standard conduct rules / norms no government employee is supposed to work outside or do some business> So in case Non Practicing Allowance is to be given to a government Doctor , why not give NPA to all government employees? There may be many with professional qualifications working in government and have capacity to do private practice / enterprise during off hours worth increasing their income.
Is it not often observed that some private clinics/Practicing government doctors ask serious patients to go to government hospital/medical college hospital? Such like questions could be put to those who are today pleading the cause of common man’s care in the name of private practice by government doctors whereas instead one is forced by the prevailing environment in the government hospitals for visiting private clinics even for minor ailments.
More so, these days, in cities / towns there are many private hospitals, retired doctors and un employed doctors / qualified Vaidraj are available. The government hospitals in case are made to deliver on ground to their ” installed capacity” then the load on private hospitals as regards general ailments will be reduced by more than even half.
By and large the provision of private practice has not been that judiciously used these days. No doubt, in case still it is felt that in remote / distant / rural areas still there is a need to allow government doctors to see patients against monetary considerations before / after office hours then there, on case to case basis , government doctors could be permitted to do private practice and the payment received be named as honourarium and not fee . But even then no allowance like NPA in any case only to government doctors, if it has to be there it has to be for all government employees who are debarred from private enterprise.
Government must contest actively any petitions made in courts on the issue of allowing private practice to government doctors and get the same legally disposed without losing any time.
(The author is a Sr Journalist and a social activist and can be mailed at [email protected]).