The Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), an autonomous institution of the Bihar government set up on the lines of Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), has said it will hire detectives to check private practice of doctors and warned of sacking those caught.
The board of governors of the institute, headed by health minister Mangal Pandey, approved a proposal to this effect on Friday. The institute will now hire the services of a private detective agency by March 15.
“It is an open secret that some of our doctors are into private practice, which they are not supposed to. We want to put an end to this practice by taking stern action against those who indulge in it.
This is a step in that direction. We need support from the government to enforce it so that the institute can develop as a medical centre of excellence in the state,” said Dr Nihar Ranjan Biswas, director of the IGIMS on deputation from AIIMS-Delhi since February 26, 2014.
There are allegations that a majority of the 300-odd faculty members out of the nearly 550 doctors at the institute also practice privately, despite availing of non-practising allowance (NPA), which is 20% of their basic salary.
Allegations have also been levelled against doctors of weaning away patients from the institute to private healthcare facilities.
“We have assiduously built our reputation over the last few years and are now trying to consolidate it. We now have a choice, as we receive 10-20 applications against any position we advertise.
The institute is not prepared to be blackmailed anymore. We will terminate the services of those indulging in private practice,” added Dr Biswas.
Since its inception in November 1983, the IGIMS has not succeeded in penalising any such doctor.
The institute last came close to penalising such offenders in 2014, when its flying squad caught six of its 29 doctors under scanner red handed.
Despite assurance of stern action by the then principal secretary, health, the offenders managed to use their influence and were let off after a warning.
Two senior professors at IGIMS — a urologist and gastroenterologist — took voluntary retirement in 2014 and 2017 after the IGIMS administration confronted them with evidence of their private practice.
The Bihar government had banned private practice across its facilities and paid NPA to its doctors for a limited period of 11 months between March 1, 2000 and February 2001 before withdrawing it.
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