Private doctors back FG on proposed Health Law
He said the primary focus of doctors should be the interest of patients, adding that one cannot serve two masters as there will be disloyalty to one and favour for the other.
He said: “If you are for private, be for private; if you are for government, be for government. Can you drive two cars at a time and you think there will be no accident? You must drive one and park one or you go to the other. The choice is for the doctors. So we private practitioners support government in that regard, because we have discovered that some of our colleagues abandon the government hospitals and divert patients to their practices.”
For Dr Stephen Kitchner, a former president of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and one of the prominent medical practitioners basedin Zaria, the federal government needs to define what it means by the policy, because it would be a difficult one to implement.
“For me we need not rush to pre-empt what the government means. It would be difficult for the government to determine what people would do with their private hours. If they are saying that adoctor would not be allowed to use his official hours to attend to hisor her private clinic this would be a good decision. This is becauseit would make the doctors to fully concentrate during their working hours.
“However, if they are saying that a doctor cannot engage in private practice even during his free hours; I think this would be difficult to implement. A doctor using his free hours to do other things I think is the same thing with a civil servant that engages in farming or other activities during his free time. By and large, the government needs to define what it means before we can assess the impact that the policy would make.”
A consultant at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), who craved for anonymity,supported the government’s move, describing it as a well-thought out one.
“It would curtail most of the sharp practices that are taking place in private hospitals. Some of these private hospitals are not owned by doctors. A businessman would just build a hospital using the licence of a doctor. Because he is just after the profit he would make, this hospital owner would employ quacks and because these people are not qualified, they end up killing innocent lives. Even the hospitals owned by doctors are usually run by nurses or even midwives, because they don’t want to spend much in employing doctors.
“Again, the policy would allow us to concentrate fully on our work. It would bring to an end a situation where a doctor is attending to his official patients and at the same time rushing out to attend to his private patients. Generally, this policy would enhance the proficiency of doctors towards their official duties and Nigerians would be better for it.”