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May 1, 2018

CJP feels ashamed at rotten state of KP’s Ayub Hospital

Top Story

May 1, 2018

LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar on Monday said the affairs of health sector in all the provinces were not satisfactory, as he pointed out that he was very much disappointed and embarrassed after seeing unclean and unhygienic condition of operation theatres at the Ayub Medical College Hospital, Abbottabad, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The situation in Punjab was also the same, he said, as he took notice of deteriorating condition of Ayub Medical College Hospital, saying he never saw such filth anywhere except there. “It was shameful to see the lack of facilities at the hospital,” Chief Justice Nisar said and added that he would soon visit the hospital along with a team of doctors.

He showed dismay over the closure of Liver Transplant Centre at Sheikh Zayed Hospital (SZH) Lahore, observing, “We won’t allow its closure,” and asked the hospital administration to explain as to why the matter was not reported since January this year.

The chief justice also directed the administration to fulfill the minimum standards set by the Human Organ Transplant Authority (Hota) before reopening the centre within a month. The chief justice had taken suo motu notice on a news item that appeared in a section of the media regarding the closure of the hospital’s transplant centre since January following a restriction imposed by the Hota due to deaths of two donors.

“The transplant unit was closed after the death of a donor,” hospital’s Director Technical Dr Murtaza informed the court. “You closed down the transplant unit due to the death of a donor?” asked the chief justice in response.

“Instead of bringing the culprits behind the death of a donor to justice, why the institute was closed down?” he questioned the SZH chairman and health officials present in the court. Dr Murtaza said the transplants were being held at the Al-Shifa Hospital during this time.

“We know why transplant operations are being conducted there,” Chief Justice Nisar remarked, adding that the transplant unit was actually closed to benefit the Al-Shifa Hospital. “How much money is being given to Al-Shifa Hospital for one transplant?” he further asked.

“Rs 3.5 million were charged for one transplant patient at the Sheikh Zayed Hospital and Al-Shifa is being given Rs 4.01 million for the transplant of one patient,” answered Dr Murtaza. “You closed down the unit in January. The inquiry report hasn’t been submitted even after five months,” observed the chief justice, upon which Dr Murtaza replied that the Hota monitoring committee had called a meeting over the issue on May 20.

The top judge also asked if the transplant unit has adequate facilities to conduct the procedure. He was told that the unit had all the facilities but needed Hota’s permission to conduct the operation.

Punjab Health Minister Khawaja Salman Rafique, Chief Secretary Capt (retd) Zahid Saeed, Health Secretary Najam Shah, SZH Chairman Dr Kamran Hussain and former director general of Hota Dr Faisal Masood appeared before a three-judge bench on a short notice.

Dr Masood told the court that two young healthy donors lost their lives since 2015 during the kidney transplantation process at the centre while 13 recipients/patients had also died. He said the percentage of the casualties was two times more than the international standards.

He pointed out that the hospital managements had not informed the Hota but the authority came to know about the deaths through its own monitoring system. He said the transplant centre had not been following the standard operating procedure (SOPs) set by the Hota.

In dialogue with the health minister, Chief Justice Nisar said, “You are the leader and you are supposed to run the country, not we.”

The chief justice reminded both the chief secretary and health secretary that the court wanted to improve the sector. “And the court would not tolerate unfair appointments,” he added. The chief justice adjourned the matter and directed the government and the hospital’s chairman to do the needful to the meet minimum requirements set by Hota within a month.

Separately, the chief justice regretted the deteriorating condition of Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute (PKLI) and questioned the spending of huge amount of Rs20 billion on the project. The top judge also expressed concerns over not submitting reports on the heavy salaries being paid to the doctors at the institute.

“The nurses and doctors were employed on hefty salaries at the hospital. Please submit details of this,” directed the chief justice, adding that the PKLI head and his wife were being paid exorbitant salaries.

Chief Justice Nisar remarked that he had directed to send the report to the chief secretary’s house on Sunday. “Why has it still not been sent?” he questioned. “Funds worth billions of rupees were released for the hospital, of which millions were just spent on employee salaries,” he observed, adding that not a single operation was conducted at the facility.

On Sunday, the chief justice had taken notice of hefty salaries being paid to the PKLI staff. The court had ordered the PKLI to give details of all doctors and staff employed at the hospital along with records of their salaries. “It is very unfortunate that a doctor is being paid Rs3.5 million as salary and no operation has been carried out,” the top judge observed.

“If we conduct forensic audit of Rs20 billion, it would be all clear that even Rs7 billion of it had not been spent there,” the chief justice remarked. He was hearing multiple suo motu notices at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry. Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan were the other members of the bench.

During the proceedings, Medical Director Dr. Amir Yar Khan appeared before the court and said the institute was at the construction stage and 43 doctors had been hired. Answering a court query, Dr Khan said the head of the institute was getting Rs1.2 million salary while his wife was getting Rs800,000.

At this, the chief justice asked him why the discrimination with other doctors and whether they at public sector hospitals were getting the same salaries. Dr Khan said private practice was banned for those serving at the institute and it was the reason that the local doctors did not intend to get job with the institute.

Addressing the chief secretary, Chief Justice Nisar raised a question whether talent had come to an end in Pakistan. Justice Bandial observed that the foreign qualified doctors should serve on the welfare grounds rather than the commercial.

The court directed the health department to submit complete record of staff and the budget of the hospital and observed that distribution of offices could not be tolerated at any cost and the health sector would be streamlined. Later, the chief justice also visited the Pakistan Kidney and Liver Institute.

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