LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister, Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has ordered granting of financial and administrative autonomy to 16 hospitals of the province and reorganization of boards of management of autonomous hospitals. He also formed a committee for regularization of doctors and paramedical staff working on contract basis and ensuring transparency and merit in the recruitments of doctors. Presiding over the meeting to review financial and administrative autonomy of hospitals, here on Monday, the Chief Minister said that the purpose of granting autonomous status to hospitals was to extend better medical facilities to patients, provision of modern machinery and medicines as well as availability of services of professionals and improving the financial position of hospitals. But, through Punjab Medical and Health Institution Act decisions were taken against the real spirit of autonomy as a result of which hospitals today have reached the brink of disaster. He said that in addition to the complaints of non-availability of medicines and services, the hospital buildings are also in a state of disrepair and contract doctors and paramedical staff is also facing job insecurity. Chief Minister further said that there was a time when people used to synchronize their watches with the rounds of professors and doctors to their wards but now the situation is that patients have to search for doctors. The Chief Minister further said that all the sectors of the country have suffered a setback during the last nine years and medical sector was at the top of this list. He further said that a modern institute would be set up for health managers and in service training of doctors on the pattern of Fatima Memorial Nursing Institute which will make arrangements for training in administrative matters. He said that foreign qualified doctors no longer come to Pakistan due to job insecurity and it has also halted the process of transfer of technology and modern medical trends to the local doctors. He said that a system will be evolved for regularizing the services of contract doctors besides a merit-based transparent system of recruitment will be evolved for overcoming the shortage of doctors and paramedical staff in hospitals. He ordered formation of a committee in this respect which will submit its report within a week. Chief Minister further said that strict notice had been taken of the complaints that contract doctors are engaged in attending and operating private patients during duty hours in some hospitals. He said that under the contract, these doctors are bound to serve the general public only during their duty timings in the hospitals and the trend of attending and operating private patients should immediately be checked. He said that the committee will also settle the matters regarding administrative and financial powers between principals and medical superintendents of the autonomous hospitals. The Chief Minister ordered reconstitution of boards of management of all hospitals and said that new boards of management will work in accordance with the real spirit of autonomy and will be free from political and administrative interference of the government. He said that third party audit will also be conducted annually. Later, the Chief Minister presided over the first meeting of newly-constituted board of management of Services Institute of Medical Sciences in which Mehr Jiwan Khan was elected as its chairman. The Chief Minister also pointed out the shortcomings observed by him during his visit to Services Hospital and directed the board to improve the conditions in the hospitals so as to set a high standard of service.