Health delivery: SC concerned over lack of medicines in Polyclinic

Three-member committee formed to decide deputation of doctors in capital

Our Correspondent October 19, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The top court on Thursday expressed its concerns over the shortage of medicines at a major tertiary care hospital in the federal capital even as it formed a committee to solve the riddle of deputing doctors at the six government-run hospitals in the city.

This was stated as a three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, heard a case pertaining to deputations of doctors in the federal capital.

During the hearing, the CJP remarked that at the Federal Government Hospital (Polyclinic), patients keep standing in queues for medicines. And when their turn finally comes, they are told that there are no more medicines available.

CJP Nisar stated that after the term of the last chief of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) ended, no new chief had been appointed. As a result, a lot of work was suffering. He told the government to inform the court when a new chairman of Drap will be appointed.

Referring to the issue of expanding the structure of Polyclinic, the chief justice said that the government should take steps to merge the Argentina Park, located behind Polyclinic, into the hospital.

“When will the extension of Polyclinic start?” the CJP asked, adding that the top court should be informed about it.

At this, the federal health secretary asked for time to file a reply.

Reviewing the matter of deputing doctors at government-run hospitals in the federal capital, the SC decided to form a three-member committee to scrutinise doctors comprising the additional health secretary, the additional establishment secretary and the joint law secretary — the committee can also add any member as it deems necessary.

The apex court directed the committee to listen to all the doctors on the list and that the report should be submitted as per the laws.

The federal health secretary told the court that according to an order passed by the SC in 2013, a number of doctors on deputations in the federal were asked to return to their parent departments.

Later, after the court issued a stay order, a committee was formed which submitted in April 2018, that 180 doctors should be asked to return to their parent institutions.

At this, Justice Ijazul Hasan asked what will be the impact if these doctors return to their institutions. The health secretary replied that according to the law, non-civil servants cannot be included, amalgamated or absorbed in the civil service.

The CJP said that those who will return will face a problem with their service seniority. Hence, he said that it will be better to form a new committee on the matter which will try and find a solution by listening to the doctors.

Directing the committee to submit a report within three weeks, the CJP adjourned the hearing of the case.

The CJP has made a number of trips to various hospitals in the federal capital and neighbouring Rawalpindi this year, visiting Polyclinic in July where he was unimpressed with the state of service delivery, directing that some doctors must be present in the hospital even on the weekends to tend to patients.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2018.


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