ISLAMABAD: After years of deliberation over whether private practice should be allowed at government-run hospitals in the federal capital, the Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto University academic council decided on Wednesday that doctors will be allowed to set up a private practice at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) from April 1.Pims Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram told Dawn that doctors from other hospitals will be invited to practice at the hospital, while specialists already affiliated with Pims will have to leave their practices at other hospitals within 12 weeks. New appointment contracts will stipulate that doctors will set up their private practices at Pims.“Some consultants who are working at Pims and practicing at private hospitals in the evenings said they have accepted appointments in advance at those hospitals. They will be given 12 weeks to see those appointments through. The hospitals they work at cannot make appointments for them for after 12 weeks,” Dr Akram said.
The vice chancellor said arrangements to set up the practices have been made, and that a quality assurance manager has also been nominated to monitor the quality of work.Fees charged by these practices will be significantly lower than private hospitals, Pims representatives say.
He said all the doctors who were appointed through the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) tenure track programme will start practicing in the evenings with immediate effect, as they are already being paid by HEC and their services have been handed over to Pims.
“A special telephone extension will be reserved for appointments and patients will be able to make an appointment over the phone. They can even make an appointment today for April 1 or any date after that,” he added.Consultation fees charged at Pims will be taxable and income tax will be deducted from them, the vice chancellor said. The hospital will be collecting the fees and paying doctors at the end of every month.
“The fees for laboratory and other tests will be 50 to 60pc lower than what is charged elsewhere. It is the first such attempt by a hospital run by the federal government, and we hope other hospitals will follow suit,” he said.In response to a question, Dr Akram said the meeting also decided to start an on-the-job PhD programme, and a committee had been established to update the curriculum of the medical college.
Proposals that specialists set up their practices at Pims have been floating around for years with some reasoning that there is extra space and facilities at Pims which will be put to use and patients would prefer coming to Pims in the evenings rather than going to private hospitals.
A doctor at Pims told where the practices will be set up and about the benefits of the new programme to patients.“It was decided that private practices will be set up on our out-patient department’s ground floor where specialists will be available from 4pm to 10pm on weekdays,” he said.Though they will have to make an appointment before they can be seen by a doctor, patients will not have to wait as long as they do at private hospitals, the doctor added.
“The waiting rooms at Pims are better than those of most hospitals and we have better facilities for patient examination as well, including better MRI, CP, ETT, and laboratories for tests,” he said.
Doctors will charge somewhere between Rs1,000 to Rs2,000 for an appointment, and 20pc of this will go towards paying staff and for other services.“This may also lead to private hospitals lowering their fees as they will be competing with Pims,” the doctor said.