The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM vetoes ban on doctors
- Private practice row

Ranchi, June 25: The Jharkhand government today turned down a demand by legislators to impose a ban on private practice by government doctors, saying it would rather strive to make doctors realise the importance of being “humane”.

“Unlike Bihar, I am not going to impose a ban on private practice and then lift it later. Instead, I will try to change the mindset of the doctors by making them realise the need to become more humane,” chief minister Arjun Munda told members of the House in the post-lunch session.

The move comes a day after Assembly Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari asked the chief minister to find out if it was possible to ban private practice by government doctors.

BJP MLA Sunil Singh today read out the names of government doctors who had been practising privately, “neglecting the poor in the rural pockets of the state”.

Demanding a ban on private practice, JD(U) MLA Radha Krishna Kishore said: “Ninety-eight per cent of the doctors posted at health centres in the rural backwaters do not turn up, despite the fact that 70 per cent of the people there fall ill due to malnutrition.”

Congress leader Manoj Yadav claimed that he had evidence against a government doctor who intentionally sought suspension from his post so as to continue with his private practice.

In his reply, Munda assured the house that every individual would get proper treatment through government schemes.

Yesterday, he had maintained it was not easy to ban private practice in the state. Citing Bihar’s case, he had said, “If we really decide to ban private practice, it will be done after plugging all the loopholes.”

In 1998, the then Bihar government had issued a notification banning private practice by government doctors. The doctors even started getting non-practising allowance (NPA) from April 1, 2000. But soon after the bifurcation, the Bihar government, apparently under pressure from the doctors’ lobby, dissolved the earlier order and stopped the NPA.

In the case of Jharkhand, the government did not issue any such notification lifting the ban but it withdrew the NPA with effect from March 1, 2001. Doctors have been using the withdrawal of the allowance as an excuse to continue private practice.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) maintains there was no harm in a government doctor practising in private as long as they were attending to their official duty.

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