LAHORE: The Young Doctors Association (YDA), Punjab, has announced to call off strike in all departments of public sector hospitals in the province in compliance with orders of the Lahore High Court.
“The normal functioning of indoor and outdoor wards will resume in hospitals today (Monday),” said YDA, Punjab, office-bearers including its president Dr Hamid Butt, Dr Nasir Abbas, Dr Kashif Bilal and many others, while addressing a press conference after holding general council meeting at the Admn Block of the Jinnah Hospital Sunday.
Earlier, the YDA, Punjab, had resumed emergency services Saturday on the orders of the Lahore High Court after the closure of emergency services for five days. Now, the young doctors will resume healthcare services in indoor wards today after one week, while they will unlock outdoor wards and provide treatment to the patients after suspension of services for three weeks.
The YDA, Punjab began its strike in Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) on June 18, 2012 demanding service structure for doctors, while it withdrew services from emergency and indoor wards as well after Punjab police launched a crackdown on young doctors on July 1.
The YDA, Punjab, office-bearers said the young doctors, while respecting the court, would resume healthcare services in hospitals today, and expect the same from the Punjab government, which they said, should also issue notification of service structure within 14 days in compliance with the verdict of the honourable court.
They also hoped that Punjab government would release four doctors still in custody and also withdraw ‘fake’ FIR registered under Section 302 in an alleged child murder case. However, they made it clear that the withdrawal of strike call while respecting the honourable court should in no way be taken as withdrawal from their prime demand of service structure, while adding that the YDA, Punjab, General Council would again review the situation after 14 days period and announce the next strategy after seeing the response of the Punjab government vis-à-vis court orders.
It may be mentioned that Lahore High Court has already suspended all the government actions including terminations, suspensions and show cause notices issued to the young doctors under Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA), Act, 2006.
The young doctors also demanded the Punjab government to release four doctors ‘falsely’ implicated under Section 302 as well as withdrawal of ‘fake’ murder FIR. However, Punjab government pointed towards procedural hiccups in the withdrawal of criminal case against doctors in child murder case.
The announcement of a strike call off provided a sigh of relief for the poor patients, who were being denied treatment in outdoor wards for 21 days, in indoor wards for seven days and in emergency wards for five days.
The senior doctors, on the directions of Punjab government, took up the challenge and provided treatment to the patients in emergency, indoor and outdoor wards round-the-clock.
Similarly, while coping with the extraordinary situation, the Punjab government made some alternate arrangements and borrowed doctors from Pakistan Army, Social Security Hospitals and Punjab Police as well as those recruited through Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) and inducting doctors though walk-in-interviews.
Besides, several doctors from public sector hospitals in peripheral areas of Lahore as well as from DG Khan were also called to provide treatment to the patients. However, these arrangements were insufficient to cope with the load of patients, and more than 10,000 doctors were on strike.
Hundreds of procedures were postponed in different hospitals due to young doctors’ strike, while several unconfirmed reports also circulated about deaths of patients due to unavailability of emergency treatment to them.
Overall, it was bad time for the poor patients, while the YDA, Punjab, was involved in a duel with the Punjab government over service structure until Lahore High Court intervened to provide much-needed relief to the patients.
Meanwhile, talking to media, special assistant to chief minister on health Kh Salman Rafiq welcomed the decision of the young doctors to call off strike in hospitals, but avoided to comment vis-à-vis implementation on service structure for doctors as per the orders of the Lahore High Court.
He also thanked Pakistan Army doctors for extending support to the Punjab government and providing relief to the poor patients in this hour of need. Regarding concerns of newly-inducted doctors on job security, he said they would continue working on their posts.