After threat of strikes by doctors, K-P agrees to amend controversial health bill

The amendments will be presented in the assembly session scheduled to be held at the end of July


Basar Ali July 22, 2015
Doctors had threatened to stage strikes at teaching hospitals if the new health bill was not amended. PHOTO: NNI

PESHAWAR: After doctors rejected it and threatened a strike at teaching hospitals in the province, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Wednesday decided to amend the Medical Institutions Reforms Act (Mira) 2015.

The amendments in the act have been introduced to add a lure for health reforms which would see 3,900 people included into the surplus pool. According to the Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act 2015, all the civil servants serving in the existing Medical Teaching Institution shall be given an option either to continue service as civil servants or opt for employment at the Medical Teaching Institution.

In section 16 of the act, it says “Civil servants who opt for employment in the Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI’s), their service structure, promotion and disciplinary matters shall be determined by the MTIs, such officials will be entitled to post retirement benefits and emoluments as per existing government laws and rules.”

Such institution will also offer pensions. For those who are on deputation, their pension contribution will be made by the respective teaching hospital of their employment.

The new amendments also will provide the space to doctors to carry on their private practice within the limits of the government hospital of their employment. The amendment in section 17 of the act adds that “employees who opt for private practice within the premises of the ….. may be entitled to increase in salary, adjustment, bonuses and other ancillary benefits as the Board may approve.”

Under the act, the teaching hospitals will become autonomous bodies and will be run by the BOG’s.

“The amendments also seek to maintain a permanent seat for people who become part of MTI” said the official. “They will not be transferred till the period of their employment is complete,” he added.

An official privy to the matter told The Express Tribune that the amendments will be presented in an assembly session scheduled to be held at the end of the month. The amendments aim to end the confrontation between the doctors and the introduction of the Board of Governor’s under the contentious act.

The enactment Mira 2015 had earlier been rejected by doctor’s bodies including, Provincial Doctors Association, Paramedical Association, Nursing Council, Clerks and Class-IV associations.

Move reeks of privatization: employee’s body

However, the Health Employees Coordination Council in Peshawar said that they still had reservations regarding the entire act and the amendments.

In a rushed press conference in Peshawar, General Secretary Dr Mahfooz said that the entire system was heading towards privatisation and only private employees had been allowed to vote for the members of the BOG’s, whereas government employees were barred, he said. He also said that they had submitted a writ petition against the said act and that it’s hearing was due tomorrow (Wednesday)

“Majority of the board members are sitting abroad – will they run the hospital online?” they questioned.

The doctors said that they had reservations against the said Act and there were around 41 points that needed either elaboration or amendments.

Clarifying their stance, they said that they were not against the introduction of the BOG’s or the health policies but the government needed to come clean about the decision.

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