PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Care Commission to fix service rates for public and private sector laboratories in consultation with the health department within three months.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Ahmad Ali observed that the lab fees should be in accordance with the quality of healthcare services.

“For this purpose, the Health Department and Health Care Commission, both are heavily responsible to provide a mechanism to bring uniformity in the fee structure and standards of health services in the public and private sector healthcare establishments and stop healthcare service providers from charging exaggerated fee from general public,” the bench ruled in a detailed judgment on a recently accepted petition.

It added that, “No doubt, fee structure of doctors and laboratories depends upon the expenses, staff, location and equipment used, but owing to this reason, they cannot be left shutter-less to charge unbridled fee from general public.”

PHC rules medics, labs can’t be allowed to charge fee at will

The petition was filed by lawyer Saifullah Muhib Kakakhel, who had requested the court to issue directives to the HCC to regulate the rates of public and private sector health facilities and make it mandatory for private laboratories, clinics and hospitals to display their rates at visible places on premises.

The bench expressed annoyance at the delay in the fixation of rates for laboratories and performance of other functions by HCC and observed, “It is very unfortunate that a period of four years has been passed but the agenda of the commission, as mentioned in their comments, is still in the pipeline and as such, commission cannot be allowed to take further indefinite time to bring their agenda out of the pipeline.”

“There is no cavil with the proposition that a number of technicians, impostors and unregistered medical practitioners are running medical clinics and same is the situation with the medical labs where untrained technicians are deceiving the general public with inaccurate and unauthentic medical tests,” it observed.

The bench ruled it was the statutory obligation of the Health Care Commission to have a strict check on public and private sector medical clinics, hospitals, blood banks, laboratories and other healthcare establishments to implement minimum standard quality of health services ad provision of medical facilities.

“The commission has been empowered to register all healthcare establishments and issue license defining scope and extent of services to be provided and also to enforce minimum standards for patient and health staff safety in public and private sectors. Empowering the commission to enforce such standards also includes the powers to check the status, nature and quality of services corresponding to the charged fees,” it observed.

The bench observed that it was clear from the preamble of the KP Health Care Commission Act, 2015, that the aim and objective of the Act was to ensure the quality of health services in the public and private sectors and improve patient safety and also to provide mechanism to ban quackery in all its forms and manifestations in public and private sectors.

Petitioner Saifullah Muhib, who is known for public interest litigations, had said the HCC had never regulated the rates of laboratories of public and private sector showing the disinterest of the relevant officials in performing duties.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2020