Medical case: Court seeks record of officials availing banned facility

Petitioner demands reimbursement of expenses on his daughter’s treatment.


Express June 29, 2011

LAHORE:


The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday sought record of all Punjab government servants who have availed medical treatment facilities abroad at the state’s expense since 1997.


Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed issued the direction to the Health Department on a petition claiming that despite a ban on the facility since 1997, the Punjab government has been reimbursing medical expenses to government servants, treated abroad.

The petition was filed by Dr Sajjad Hussain, a retired government servant, demanding release of outstanding payment spent on the treatment of his daughter.

He said that his daughter, Dr Sara Hussain, was diagnosed with hepatitis in February 2010 and was admitted to Shaikh Zayed Hospital. Due to her worsening health, the medical board, constituted by the government, recommended immediate liver transplant in any of the neighbouring countries, as the facility was not available in Pakistan.

Therefore, she was taken to India and had a liver transplant on April 9, 2010 at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi. The liver, he said, was donated by his son. He said that the total reimbursable expenditure was Rs4.744 million and was forwarded to the Punjab government through the Health Department secretary.

The petitioner said the government reimbursed only Rs2 million in two instalments.

Dr Hussain told the court that the government had introduced a new arrangement in which instead of reimbursement, the medical allowance was added to his salary and pension. Besides, for hospitalisation, there was no restriction on reimbursement of medical charges in the new arrangement, he said. The petitioner said that according to the West Pakistan Government Servants (medical attendance) Rules 1959, both serving and retired government servants and their dependents were entitled to free medical treatment in government hospitals and reimbursement of medical charges in cases of payments made form their own expenses.

Dr Hussain, said that being a retired government servant, he had limited financial resources and had borrowed money for his daughter’s treatment. He said that a representation was also made before the Punjab chief minister in 2010, but no action had been taken so far.

The petitioner requested the court to direct the government to release the outstanding amount of Rs2.744 million.

Nasir Mehmood, a Health Department section officer, informed the court that on March 27, 1997 the government had imposed a ban on reimbursement of expenses on treatment abroad.

The court then directed the Health Department to produce a list of all government servants and their dependents who had received medical treatment abroad at the state’s expense since the ban. The judge adjourned further hearing till July 11.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2011.

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