Chaos at Nowshera hospital: Faculty members see influential PTI figure behind move

January 16, 2022

PESHAWAR: Enraged by the refusal of the Board of Governors of the Qazi Hussain Ahmad Medical Complex , a tertiary care hospital of Nowshera Medical College , to accommodate their nominees against...

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PESHAWAR: Enraged by the refusal of the Board of Governors of the Qazi Hussain Ahmad Medical Complex (QHAMC), a tertiary care hospital of Nowshera Medical College (NMC), to accommodate their nominees against the merit on key positions, an influential political figure of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in Nowshera district has facilitated health services suspension in the hospital for the last three days.

“All services have been suspended in the hospital for the last three days. Patients have been suffering and are being referred to Mardan and Peshawar as some non-local people have taken control of the institution and don’t allow the doctors to provide services to patients,” a faculty member told The News.

The faculty members of the hospital and Nowshera Medical College (NMC) have refused to become part of this politically-motivated campaign and rather decided to provide services but the hospital administration has failed to ensure their security.

The faculty members said they don’t understand why so-called doctors’ associations were silent for three years when every position in the hospital had a price and untrained people were given important positions.

“It is very strange when these politically-backed mafias are holding the present BoG responsible for the past three years of mismanagement in the hospital. The hospital was given to the existing board three months ago and they put it on the right track that threatened the interests of these mafias,” said a senior faculty member on condition of anonymity.

According to the officials, a local influential political figure of the ruling party allegedly instigated the health workers to suspend services and launch a strike against the board.

The issue has become quite serious as the provincial PTI leadership had informed Prime Minister Imran Khan about the negative role of the Nowshera-based political leader and his son. Besides the prime minister, Dr Nausherwan Burki, the architect of PTI’s much-publicised health reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has also been informed of how the PTI leader and his son tried to dictate the BoG in the recruitment of important positions of managers for different departments.

According to sources, the board members had reportedly tried to explain to the political figure that it would be difficult for them to compromise on merit as they had selected the best available people in the market for the manager positions.

They also offered to accommodate nominees of the PTI political leader in non-technical positions that don’t require merit. According to senior government officials aware of the situation in Nowshera, the previous BoG, run by Gulrez Khan alone, a contractor by profession, had recruited hundreds of people against the merit and without needs of the hospital and caused huge damage to the institutions and wasted taxpayers’ money.

“That political leader of Nowshera in fact considered the public sector hospitals in his district as his personal properties as no one could dare to resist him in the government. It caused a huge loss to the institutions as despite spending billions of funds, health services could not be improved there,” an official of the Health Department told The News on condition of anonymity.

There are widespread reports that certain positions in Nowshera hospital were sold to people for hefty cash and they were now fearing that they might lose their jobs if the present board of governors, headed by Prof Nurul Iman, stayed there.

“It is well-organised camping launched by the political leader of Nowshera and their agenda is to get rid of Prof Nurul Iman as they understand they will not achieve their goals in his presence,” a senior faculty member of the hospital said.

The situation deteriorated after two members of the board went to the hospital and started making noise and using abusive language in the presence of patients and their attendants as well as female staff. Two of them are provisional members of the BoG, and there is no room in the MTI Act 2015 for the provisional members. According to sources in the Health Department in Peshawar, the provisional members were installed by the politician of Nowshera in the board.

According to sources, the political figure along with his supporters in the hospital had brought people from Mardan and Peshawar to support them in their strike in Nowshera. It is a test case for the provincial government whether to uphold merit and stand behind the BoG or bow to the political figure striving for his interests at the cost of public resources.

The two institutions suffered from mismanagement, nepotism and lack of merit in appointments for key positions.

It is because of political interference that patients from the Nowshera district are referred to Peshawar and nearby Mardan Medical Complex (MMC), also a tertiary care hospital of the same category but better managed than the health facility in Nowshera.

The government had declared the Nowshera hospital as a Medical Teaching Institute (MTI) to run it through an autonomous Board of Governors and the basic aim was improving the services there and appointing doctors and other technical staff on merit.

There were hopes of betterment in services when a new board was formed three months ago with its chairman, Prof Dr Nurul Iman, known for honesty, integrity and quality administration.

Apart from internal administrative changes and the introduction of IBP in a span of just three months, the current board has implemented the MTI Act in letter and spirit, most notably merit-based recruitment.

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