Dear Editor, Since the abrogation of the Article 370 and establishment of union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, every now and then we hear that all the rules and regulations of union territories of India shall also be enforced in Jammu and Kashmir including ban on the private practice by the Govt. doctors and hope this actually happens. A large number of MBBS and specialist doctors in Jammu and Kashmir don’t have govt. job and neither they get an opportunity to establish in private business because the govt. doctors despite getting handsome salary also engage in private practice and take the share of the unemployed doctors who neither have place in private nor in govt. set up and ultimately, they are forced to leave for other states in search of job in govt. and Private hospitals. Ban on the Private practice by the govt. doctors shall benefit the new doctors in the union territory who don’t have govt. job and shall give them an ample opportunity to establish in private sector, thus lowering the burden of the govt. and they can also serve the public in need. The teaching of MBBS students and the postgraduate students by the faculty in the medical colleges of Jammu and Kashmir and the quality of patient care has deteriorated due to their main interest in private practice and shall tremendously improve by putting a ban on private practice and this will also help to generate more competent doctors in future and shall lead to overall improvement in the patient care. Presently, in the villages and far flung and hilly areas of the union territory, the number of doctors employed by the Govt. is much less as compared to the number of doctors posted in the main cities, thus making the patients in these remote areas to suffer. This problem of scarcity of Govt. doctors in the rural areas has been from the very beginning and no Government has succeeded to overcome this problem. Moreover, the doctors posted in distant and far flung areas don’t go there regularly or they go on leave till they get their posting modified to the main cities, thus, suffering humanity in villages does not get adequate and timely medical services by the Govt. doctors. Ban on the private practice by the Govt. doctors will encourage the establishment of private clinics and corporate hospitals in rural areas of the union territory and shall play a great role in providing medical facilities to the patients in these remote areas who otherwise have to run to cities for treatment. Over the last two decades, there is mushrooming of private hospitals and nursing homes in Jammu and Kashmir providing better facilities than the Govt. centres . Except trauma and emergency cases, most of the patients including poor ones straight away go to private medical centres for instant treatment than to line up in long queues and getting dates for surgery months ahead in Govt. hospitals. If analysed sincerely, more number of patients are being treated in the private medical centres in J and K than in the Govt. hospitals where government is spending million of rupees for the equipment, salary of the staff, construction and maintenance of buildings, etc. It is mostly the govt. doctors who are treating them in private centres. At an average, a consultant in GMC operates just once a week and does only 2-3 operations in a week and may do 8-10 operations in private nursing homes. This mal practice can be overcome only by putting a strict ban on the private practice by the Govt. doctors and increasing the OPD and OT days of the doctors to accommodate more number of patients who have to wait for months together for getting surgery dates in the Govt. Medical College Hospitals. Moreover, unemployed doctors can get opportunity to work in private nursing homes to cater the needy patients. Also a large number of OPDs are being run by the doctors from the neighboring states especially Punjab to cater the need of the patients by providing newer and better techniques which are not available in the Govt. hospitals of Jammu and Kashmir. The patients have a choice to go for check up and treatment to these private clinics run by the outside doctors without facing any problem even if there is ban on the Private practice by the Govt. doctors of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. By indulging in private practice, the Govt. doctors get overburdened and this definitely affects the quality of services provided to the patients as well as the mental and physical health of the doctors who don’t get enough time for themselves and their families and this has also lead to rise in the incidence of heart attacks and early deaths among medical professionals in their young and middle age. Ban on the private practice by the Govt. doctors will also play a great role in overall welfare of the medical community in the union territory and provide for healthy mind and healthy bodies of the doctors as well. In almost all the union territories of the country where govt. doctors are not allowed to do private practice, the delivery of health care system is excellent. In the nutshell, ban on the private practice by the Govt. doctors in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir shall streamline the working of Health and Medical department and shall improve the patient care. To start with Govt. should immediately put a strict ban on Private Practice of the doctors employed in the medical colleges of the union territory and this will definitely improve the teaching of medical students and the patient care in the Govt. Hospitals. There may be an apprehension that most of the Govt. doctors will resign from the Govt. job if there is ban on the private practice by the Govt. and it will become difficult for the authorities to run the medical colleges in the union territory. One can be assured that none will quit the Govt. job because the real fact is that the private practice of almost all the Govt. doctors is hospital based and no one shall take such a risk. Dr Rajive Gupta, M.S.(Surgeon Specialist) Jammu.
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