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December 19, 2016

Health reforms process in limbo as LRH director quits


December 19, 2016

Directors of two other hospitals have already resigned

PESHAWAR: After the Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) and Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), the hospital director of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s largest Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) has also decided to resign.

The resignations have put the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s much-publicised Medical and Teaching Institutions Reforms Act 2015 at stake.

Senior LRH officials told The News that Col (R) Dr Hamid Saeedul Haq finally sent his resignation to the Board of Governors (BoG), headed by Dr Nausherwan Burki, who is known as the architect of MTI Act 2015.

Though Col ?Hamid didn’t officially confirm his resignation, the officials said he was not at ease working with Dr Nausherwan Burki.

“I think he was having problems with Dr Nausherwan Burki and had made up his mind a few months ago to quit,” said a senior official of LRH.

Col Hamid was among the first hospital directors appointed after implementation of the MTI Act 2015 in January 2016. He was among the135 candidates who had applied for the post and 35 were shortlisted.

The selection committee then called 10 candidates for interview and finalised the names of three, including two retired brigadiers and one colonel, for the post. Col Hamid was finally chosen for the challenging job.

As he belonged to Swabi, some of the doctors and hospital staff strongly opposing the health reforms then started rumours that he was appointed on the directive of Health Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai and Speaker Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Asad Qaisar as both also are from same district.

However, some of the BoG members denied these reports and insisted that Dr Hamid Saeed was selected purely on merit and on the basis of his experience of working in different military hospitals.

As the LRH is one of the most problematic hospitals of the province where dozens of pressure groups and associations of the hospital employees exist, he faced a lot of pressure to implement health reforms in LRH. At one point, he got frustrated when almost all the hospital employees, including the then medical director, opposed his agenda and staged protest demonstrations in the hospital premises, locked the outpatient departments, operation theatres and other services when Col Hamid decided to implement health reforms and asked the hospital employee to follow official duty hours.

He single-handedly fought against all such pressure groups and internal and external mafias as LRH had been their main source of income.They considered Col Hamid a serious threat to their vested interests and malpractices and used all options against him, but he stood firm.

The LRH has many entry points and this promoted malpractices in the institution with the connivance of corrupt staff members. Patients were shifted from LRH to private medical and surgical centres and laboratories were established outside the hospital even though these facilities existed in LRH.

He and Prof Mukhtiar Zaman Afridi, Medical Director LRH, later took practical measures to introduce the Institution-Based Practice (IBP).

Also, there were reports that Col Hamid was paid Rs300,000 salary in which he had to pay around Rs48,000 income tax, while other hospital directors in rest of the public sector hospitals were given Rs500,000.

“Besides financial issues, he was not given the honour he required for his hard work,” said the official in LRH.Before him, Brig (R) Dr Fazle Akbar resigned from his position as hospital director KTH.Brig Fazle Akbar was appointed the first regular hospital director of KTH in January 2016.

After Brig Fazle Akbar ?took the charge of his office, people in general and the hospital staff in particular expected him to utilise his military experience and improve affairs of the hospital. He too was keen to implement the long-awaited reforms but soon lost interest in his work.

Medical Director of the hospital, Prof Dr Roohul Muqim had even surrendered the office meant for chief executive for the past many years and he himself started working at the office of medical superintendent. However, Brig (R) Fazle Akbar resigned in September this year citing personal reasons for quitting his job.

Before Brig Fazle Akbar, Dr Anees Akhtar had resigned as hospital director of the HMC. He too cited personal reasons for quitting the job.Though none of them mentioned the real reasons for resignation, it was obvious they did not have powers to take action against the doctors they were supposed to ?administer.

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