Gorakhpur’s BRD tragedy brings back focus on private practice

While private practice has been banned as per the service rules, doctors have been running hospitals in the name of their wives or relatives.

lucknow Updated: Aug 26, 2017 18:06 IST
Gaurav Saigal
Gaurav Saigal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Gorakhpur’s BRD tragedy,BRD Medical College Hospital,Private practice
Gorakhpur’s tragedy has revived the issue of private practice by government doctors, which is rampant despite being banned.

The probe report on Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College Hospital tragedy has brought the focus back on the corruption maze the UP’s healthcare system is entangled in.

More importantly it has revived the issue of private practice by government doctors, which is rampant despite being banned.

The probe report submitted by the chief secretary to the chief minister has indicted Dr Kafeel Khan of hiding facts from the district authorities and acting against the Indian Medical Council Act. He has also been charged with running a private clinic in Gorakhpur, despite being in government job.

The magisterial probe and the inquiry by the Indian Medical Association had also indicted Kafeel and others on private practice charge.

While private practice has been banned as per the service rules, doctors have been running hospitals in the name of their wives or relatives.

In Gorakhpur, where patients from many neighbouring districts, as well as Nepal, come for treatment, private practice is quite rampant.

BANNED FIRST IN 1970s

The private practice was first banned in UP in 1970s. Since then the doctors had been pursuing politicians to allow it. They got success too but soon after it were banned again under pressure from the civil society representatives.

“I can remember that at least five times private practice was allowed and banned since 1972. At present it is banned,” said Dr SD Pandey, former head of the plastic surgery department at King George’s Medical University.

Over a dozen doctors of KGMU are facing court case for doing private practice.

Some of them have retired while a few also took voluntary retirement.

A senior faculty member, who was charged with doing private practice and owning a private hospital in Lucknow, has appointed three retired teachers from KGMU, who had at some point of time conducted probe against him.

An investigation by the local intelligence unit also caught KGMU doctors doing private practice, but the report was put under the wraps.

THE MODUS OPERANDI

Doctors working at government hospitals get non-practicing allowance between ₹8,000 and ₹ 15,000, while the salaries start at around ₹60,000.

The decent perks, however, doesn’t stop many government doctors from indulging in private practice.

In fact, some government doctors have tie-ups with private hospitals where they refer cases, citing lack of infrastructure at government hospitals.

“A few doctors operate patients at these private hospitals before or after their duty hours at government hospitals,” said an official.

A doctor in Lucknow’s Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital was booked recently after a youth he operated upon at a private hospital died during operation.

“Now, he is facing probe and a police case,” said an official.

“For hardly 15% or 20% doctors of the government hospital, the entire fraternity is being blamed for doing private practice,” said Dr Sachin Vaish, former general secretary of the Provincial Medical Services Association, the body of government doctors.

“The government needs to take strict action and weed out such elements,” he said.

Read more: How Gorakhpur has always grappled with healthcare infrastructure problems

BLAME IT ON OFFICIALS TOO

The probe in the BRD Medical College tragedy has recommended action only against those who were working on campus and not anyone from the medical education department in the state capital.

“If those working at BRD Medical College are guilty those sitting in Lucknow in medical education department too are. Action should have been taken against them as well,” said a government doctor.

First Published: Aug 26, 2017 18:06 IST