Gujarat Govt Bans Private Practice By Government Doctors

The Gujarat government has passed a resolution, putting a blanket ban on private practice by government doctors, and announcing mandatory Non Practising Allowance (NPA) for all doctors, irrespective of length of service.

Earlier, the government had cancelled the NPA in November 2006, thereby permitting all doctors to practice privately, in a bid to retain and attract more talented doctors. In reaction to this, a series of petitions were filed, and a stay order was passed by the High Court in December, 2006. Later, in a resolution, the Heath Department had declared that only doctors having 15 years or more of service would be eligible for NPA. This decision was again challenged by the petitioners, resulting in the cancellation of the resolution by the High Court. Ever since, the petitioners had been persistent in their demand for a government resolution to continue NPA.

As a result of the new resolution, the ongoing unrest among the government doctors in the state, has finally come to an end. A total of nearly 8,000 government doctors of the state said that the move was in greater public interest, and for the people living in small towns and rural areas in particular.

In the words of Dr Shailendra Vora, President of ESIC Class II Doctors Association: “The old policy, of allowing doctors to practice privately, was full of flaws and was the principal reason behind the long queues outside operation theatres of government hospitals.”  

The Indian Medical Association’s Gujarat Branch too has welcomed the latest move. The honorary general secretary of the association, Dr Bipin Patel, opined that this move will ensure better medical services and induce doctors to stay on in government service. He further added that this will also reduce the degree of distraction among doctors, who would now be able to pay undivided attention to patients in government hospitals.
However, the state government is still in a tight spot – though it had barred all government doctors from doing private work, it still has to attract talented doctors to join in and stay in the poor paying government jobs.

 At leas 700 new medical seats will be created in the state. It is hoped that even if most of doctors who pass, join private hospitals, there would still be quite a few doctors to take up jobs in government hospitals.
According to a senior health department official, “We have proposed a rise of 700 medical seats in the state. This proposal, has been put in motion to the Union health ministry and we are expecting the seats to increase by 2009. This is the only way to fight this problem.”