Azad say no to privatisation of SSH Jammu
By Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Apr 16: The State Government has mooted a proposal to run six prominent hospitals-three each in Jammu and Srinagar–under Public Private Partnership (PPP) including upcoming Super Specialty Hospital (SSH) of Jammu. However, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir has shot down the proposal to hand over SSH Jammu to a private party for running on the ground that it would badly affect the poor patients in getting medicare.
However, for running five other hospitals in PPP mode, the Government has formed a high level committee to examine the proposal, work out their terms and conditions and other formalities.
Meanwhile, due to delay in construction of three Integrated Module Theatres (a very advanced version of operation theatres), the commissioning of Super Specialty Hospital of Jammu has been further delayed. The advance theatres are to be constructed by M/s Hindustan Latex Limited, a Public Sector Undertaking of the Union Government.
Six hospitals, proposed for privatization under PPP mode by the State Government, included SSH Jammu, Chopra Nursing Home of Government Medical College, Jammu and District Hospital, Gandhi Nagar, all three in Jammu region, Maternity Hospital, Sanat Nagar, Srinagar, Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital, Srinagar and Kashmir Nursing Home, Gupkar Road.
Four of these hospitals fell under the Medical Education Ministry and two under the Health Ministry.
Official sources told the Excelsior that since the SSH Jammu had been constructed with the funding of the Central Government, the State Government had written to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad seeking his permission to allow the State to run it under the PPP mode on the ground that the State on its own was finding it difficult to manage infrastructure to commission and run the hospital.
However, sources said, Mr Azad has rejected the proposal on the ground that it would deprive poor people of the State of treatment as private parties would levy charges for all kind of healthcare including surgeries and tests etc.
The Government has decided to approach Mr Azad again with the similar proposal citing that Karnataka Government has been permitted to run the SSH in PPP mode.
According to sources, the Union Government’s permission was not required for running five other hospitals under PPP mode and, therefore, the State Government has constituted its own Task Force to work out modalities of switching over to PPP mode for these hospitals.
“The proposal was lying with Planning Department after which it would be examined by an official expert committee to be appointed by the Chief Secretary to work out all modalities and terms and conditions for running five hospitals under PPP mode”, they said.
Under the PPP mode, the patients had to make payments for all the services availed by them in the hospitals.
The hospitals were handed over to private parties with condition that they would provide free treatment to a certain percentage of BPL patients. However, it has been seen that the poor patients were not being given treatment by the private hospitals, which had availed land at nominal charges from the Government with the condition of providing free treatment to 25 per cent patients.
Sources claimed that terms and conditions of the PPP mode would be devised in such a way that it didn’t hit the poor patients much.
According to sources, Chopra Nursing Home has been closed down by the authorities after ban on private practice of the doctors as the patients had to pay fees to doctors and charges for surgeries, fixed by the Government, for availing facilities in the Nursing Home, which was run by the GMC Jammu.
The Government has decided to approach the Supreme Court to allow it to file a petition in the High Court against its order imposing ban on private practice of the doctors. Till then, Chopra Nursing Home would remain closed.
According to sources, there was a majority view that the Government hospitals and Nursing Homes run by it should not be given to private parties under the PPP mode as it would adversely affect the poor patients and deprive them of medical facilities in good City hospitals and Nursing homes at both Jammu and Srinagar.
“Despite handing over six hospitals to private parties under PPP mode, the major share would remain with the Government”, sources said but admitted that the people had to pay charges for the facilities including surgeries, tests etc, which hitherto were being conducted either free of cost or with very nominal charges.
Meanwhile, commissioning of Super Specialty Hospital in Jammu has been further delayed as HLL was yet to start construction work on three Integrated Modular Theatres.
“The Integrated Module Theatres were highly advanced operation theatres in which the doctors could even seek opinion of their colleagues within the State, country or even abroad through video conferencing while performing surgeries”, sources said, adding that the task of construction of new theatres had been assigned to the HLL.
“As construction of three advanced theatres was yet to begin, the commissioning could take a lot of time”, official sources said and added that the Hospital without Modular Theatres would have no meaning as the very purpose of Super Specialty Hospital would be defeated.
The State Government and Medical Education Ministry were putting a lot of weight behind commissioning of the Super Specialty Hospital to lessen burden on Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu.
Six Super Specialties, which would be commissioned in the new hospital coming up at Resham Ghar, adjacent to the GMC Jammu, were Cardiology, Cardio Thoracic Vascular Surgery (CTVS), Neurology, Neuro Surgery. Nephrology and Nephro Surgery.
When contacted, Medical Education Minister, RS Chib said the construction part of SSH Jammu was executed by Central Public Works Department (CPWD) while provisioning was being done by HLL. He added that till the Modular Theatres were constructed by the HLL, the commissioning of the hospitals was not possible.
The Super Specialty Hospital was announced in February 2004 for many States including Jammu. A lot of time was consumed for identification of the site for its construction. Finally, the construction was taken up at Resham Ghar as it was close to existing GMC Jammu.
Sources said majority part of construction of Super Specialty Hospital excepting three Modular Theatres has been completed. With construction of advanced theatres and recruitment of staff, the hospital would be commissioned.