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Law being amended to punish health workers for negligence, malpractices

The health department is amending Healthcare Commission Act, 2015 to award punishments to health professionals for negligence, malpractices and misconduct etc.

The HCC, set up by health department 18 months ago to regulate health delivery activities in the province, is facing daunting challenge of making any progress. It has 11 inspectors for the province and the staff at the provincial office is 25 per cent of the sanctioned posts. However, there is no staffer of HCC at divisional level.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission Act, 2015 was enforced in early 2015 but the space, with which it is going, is slow.

Dr Mohammad Zaffar, the chairman of HCC Board of Governors, said that they collected data about the healthcare scenario and found that offences were taking place commonly but there was no provision in the law to penalise the violators.

He said that they could only impose penalty on a health professional if he was found guilty of negligence and inflicting harm on patients. The new amendment will outline the quantum of penalties for at least eight offences.

Enforcement of Healthcare Commission Act slow in KP

“We are seeking technical assistance to analyse our draft, we have prepared to enlist penalties on the basis of major and medium 34 offences with jail terms as deterrent,” said Dr Zaffar.

He said that there would be different punishments for qualified and unqualified health practitioners and in case of negligence FIRs would be lodged and case would be sent to court for trial under normal procedure.

“We have already mentioned those crimes in the regulations but we cannot implement the same because these don’t exist in the present law,” said Dr Zaffar. He said that punishments up to six months imprisonment and Rs500,000 penalties would be proposed for incorporation into HCC Act, 2015.

“The law empowers HCC to penalise the offenders up to Rs1million but there is no jail term for people indulging in major malpractices. The new amendment will cover most crimes in the healthcare system,” he said.

Dr Zaffar said that violators would be charged under specific sections, which they lacked presently. He said that clinical investigations into allegations of mistreatment by patients would be conducted and necessary action would be taken under the law.

“HCC wants to be empowered to write to Pakistan Medical and Dental Council for cancellation of licence of doctors indulging in malpractices. It would also recommend to Pakistan Nursing Council in case charges are proved against a person,” said Dr Zaffar.

He said that despite shortage of staff, they in collaboration with Shifa International were starting first-ever performance audit of Khyber Teaching Hospital, Lady Reading Hospital, Hayatabad Medical Complex and major hospitals in Mardan, Swat, Bannu and Dera Ismail Khan from February21.

The provincial government pledged an amount of Rs80 million to strengthen HCC, which replaced Health Regulatory Authority, and enable it to regulate health activities throughout the province but it received Rs20 million annually grant, which is 30 per cent of the salary budget.

Sources said that in Sindh and Punjab, that commission was totally sponsored by provincial government.

They said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department wanted HCC to generate income from penalties and registration and licence fee issued to medical practitioners and private laboratories, hospitals and X-rays and ultrasounds etc.

“At this stage, the commission is unable to generate resources because of shortage of staff for office and field work,” said sources.

Yusafzai, Ashfaq. Law being amended to punish health workers for negligence, malpractices. Dawn, February 9, 2017.

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