ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed displeasure over lack of facilities in the medical teaching hospitals of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed that when the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre could function with all facilities, then why government-run hospitals in KP could not function properly with provision of all facilities.

Shaukat Khanum Memorial, a brainchild of prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan, is a state-of-the-art cancer centre located in Lahore and Peshawar.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led KP government had set in place administrative and financial autonomy mechanism for teaching hospitals through the KP Medical Teaching Institutions Reform Act 2015. The SC directed the KP government to submit a report pertaining to equipment and facilities provided in the hospitals.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan took up the matter regarding gross irregularities in selection of the management of teaching hospitals in KP and its extension. Members of board of governors of the KP teaching hospitals were also present during the hearing.

The chief justice observed that Nosherwan Barki, cousin of Imran Khan, was running the management of a hospital in KP and he himself was living in the US. Justice Bandial remarked that the basic issue was proper functioning of hospitals. He observed that condition of KP hospitals was miserable and MRI and CT scan machines were not functioning during the surprise visit of chief justice to the KP hospitals. During the hearing, the chief justice also lamented the performance of Barki, and remarked that he was responsible for such conditions of the hospital he was managing. The chief justice said Shaukat Khanum was being managed properly but Khan could not even get the government hospitals cleaned.

He further remarked that a kettle of tea was placed in operation theatre of Ayub Medical Complex while trauma centre of Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawar was non-functional. The chief justice said that provision of health facilities to common citizens was his priority.

During the hearing, head of Ayub Medical Hospital claimed before the bench that BoGs performed well and condition of hospitals was being improved. Another member of a hospital board, Faisal Sultan, contended that efforts were made for improvement but that time span was short. The CJ asked the hospitals boards’ members not to exaggerate and questioned the performance of the KP government.

An official of Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) informed the bench that legislation for MTIRA 2015 took a year while bringing perfection to hospitals was not possible in the remaining 1.5 years. The members of different BoGs complained regarding lack of funds and said that the flow of funds was directly related to improvement in hospitals.

The reply filed by Chief Secretary KP Azam Khan stated that the KP cabinet on April 25 had approved re-appointment of board of governors (BoG) of medical teaching institutions subject to the appraisal of the members’ individual performance. Pursuant to this decision of the cabinet, provisional orders of re-appointment are being issued subject to consideration of performance of the members by the cabinet, the reply stated.

The MTIRA 2015’s Section 5 in its sub-section (1) determines that there shall be a BoG for each MTI for its administration. Sub-section (2) of Section 5 of the MTIRA 2015 determines that such a board shall not exceed 7 members and all of whom shall be from the private sector. Section 8 of the said act provides for a search and nomination council (SNC) for recommendation of persons from private sector suitable to be appointed as member.

According to complainant Dr Rizwan Kundi, President Young Doctor Association KP, after promulgation of the MTIRA 2015, then chief minister Pervez Khattak did nepotism and favouritism in selection of BoGs who exercised their powers and appointed blue-eyed persons on key management posts violating the rules and merit. “Many of senior faculty members condemned corporatisation and unlawful actions for the last 2 years. Recommendations of departmental promotion committee and institutional promotion committee were rejected unlawfully in order to target the faculty members”, he maintained.

The actual spirit of MTIRA 2015 was a good opportunity to streamline the teaching hospitals but it was sabotaged due to favouritism and nepotism of then chief minister by appointing incompetent members, the complaint stated. The complainant prayed the top court to direct KP government to strictly avoid granting extension of existing members and delegate the powers of BoGs to KP Health Department.