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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on National Health Services (NHS), Tuesday, deferred the discussion on the Federal Medical Teaching Institute (FMTI) Bill, 2021, and The National Institute of Health Re-organization, 2021, on the request of the opposition members.

The committee meeting was held here under the chairmanship of Senator Dr Mohammad Humayun Khan to discuss the agenda regarding the two bills, reorganisation of the Federal Medical Teaching Institutes and Teaching Hospitals (the Federal Medical Teaching Institutes Bill, 2021) – and Bill to re-organise and create the National Institute of Health (The National Institute of Health Re-organization) Bill, 2021- referred by the House.

The committee members, while expressing serious reservations on the proposed law, said the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SPAM) and the chairman of committee were in a hurry to pass the bill but they had received the copies of the agenda items just over night and were unable to read it.

They requested the chairman of committee to defer the bill for some time, so that the members could study it and come up with some solid recommendations. The chairman committee accepted the request of the members and deferred further deliberations on the proposed law till Thursday.

The bills have already been passed from the National Assembly.

Expressing strong reservations over the bill, opposition member Senator Rubina Khalid requested the committee chairman not to approve the bill till the members have not thoroughly studied it.

Briefing the meeting, Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Health Dr Faisal Sultan said the word ‘cooperative’ was objected by the employees of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (PIMS) following which the Health Ministry in collaboration with the Law Ministry had changed it.

The Committee members questioned whether the doctors’ community had also been included in the governing board.

Dr Sultan responded that eminent names of the health sector had been included in the board.

He said the board would be able to appoint hospital director, medical director, dean, director finance, and director nursing.

Opposition members sought Dr Sultan’s guarantee that the board would not remove anyone.

Liaison officials told the committee that the board would have the power to fire only the hired employees. The status of the employees would remain the same as that of the civil servants. Senator Khalid said the health institutions in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) including the biggest public sector hospital, the Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, were in a dismal situation as a simple BA official was looking after all the matters of the hospital.

On the occasion, the chairman of the committee said, “We are above the parties, in this committee for the protection of the rights of the common citizens. If I want to stay, I will have the right. If someone wants to be an employee of an organisation, he will also have that option.”

The members of the Committee requested the chair for time to deliberate upon the bill as they had received the copies of the bills as well as the working papers by the concerned ministry very late, consequently, they could not study the bills. Therefore, on the request of the members, the Chairman adjourned the meeting and the Committee decided to call the next meeting to discuss the bills on 24th June 2021.

Senator Bahramand Khan Tangi also raised serious questions over the bill. After the committee meeting, the Chairman committee, while talking to Business Recorder, said the bills were aimed at improving the overall structure of the public sector teaching hospitals, so that the people could get best services at par with the top private hospitals.

He said that under the law, the management of the teaching hospitals would be separated from the faculty members as relevant people with relevant education and experience would be appointed on relevant posts. He said that a board of governors would run the affairs of the hospital, which would not only make the institutions somehow financially independent but would also rid lengthy process of approving any appointment against any post, which under the prevailing system were taking months and years.

He said that under the proposed law there would be a management committee consisting of dean of the college as chairman, hospital director, medical director, nursing director, finance director or any other two persons appointed by the board of the governors on the recommendations of the dean of college.

The meeting was attended by Senator Rubina Khalid, Bahramand Khan Tangi, Hafiz Abdul Karim, Imamuddin Shouqeen, Jam Mahtab Hussain Dahar, Sana Jamili, Dr Faisal Sultan, SAPM and officials of National Institute of Health, Islamabad.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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