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January 11, 2015

Doctors’ strike paralyses health services in Peshawar


January 11, 2015

PESHAWAR: Thousands of patients suffered as doctors on Saturday observed complete strike and paralysed the healthcare services in three major teaching hospitals of the provincial capital in protest against the proposed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission Bill.
The Provincial Doctors Association (PDA) had given the call for strike at the three teaching hospitals.
The doctors stayed away from duty and refused to provide services at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) and the Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC).
Except emergency cover, the protesting doctors suspended all healthcare services and caused hardships to the patients.
The doctors didn’t attend the out-patient departments (OPDs), ward round and operation theatres.
Thousands of patients who had come from far-off areas in different parts of the province hopelessly returned home without availing any service in the tertiary care hospitals that cost the taxpayers billions of rupees every year. Many had rented taxis or pickup trucks to bring their patients to Peshawar and spent the night in hotels.
“I have come from Karachi to bring my ailing father to Peshawar from my village. I had rented a car and brought him to LRH two weeks ago. The doctors told me to bring him after two weeks as there was no bed in the ward,” complained Abdul Wahab, one of the hundreds of frustrated attendants at the LRH.
He said they came to Peshawar Friday evening and spent the night at a nearby hotel to get an earlier appointment for the doctor in the OPD. “When we reached the hospital this morning, security guards told us that doctors had gone on an indefinite strike,” Abdul Wahab said.
“Two weeks ago the doctor told us that he would operate on the patient the same day if he was brought to his private surgical centre. We couldn’t afford the private treatment so we decided to get the surgery done at the LRH,” he added. He pointed out that they had to spend lot of

money on transportation of the patient to Peshawar and arrange other things for the surgery.
Hundreds of patients in the three hospitals could not be operated due the doctors’ strike.
Also, the pathology and radiology departments remained close in the three hospitals.
The authorities of LRH, KTH and HMC failed to ensure uninterrupted health services as some of the striking doctors forcibly shut the OPD counters and paralysed the services in the hospitals.
Some people working in the hospital administration had even participated in the protest sit-in of the doctors on Friday outside the provincial assembly.
The doctors are protesting against the decentralisation of Postgraduate Medical Institute (PGMI) and certain other issues in the KP Healthcare Commission Bill.
Interestingly, most of the doctors had not even read the proposed Bill and yet they started protesting against it. The government tabled the Bill in the provincial assembly on January 6, 2015.
A senior official of the health department said they had finalized the bill after holding consultation with the doctors and incorporating their proposals before it was submitted in the assembly.
“Some of the doctors are misguiding the medical fraternity for their vested interest by telling them that the government wanted to dissolve the PGMI. It’s not true. The government planned its devolution. After all the teaching hospitals are given true autonomy, every hospital would have its own PGMI with the same functions,” the official said.
Also, he said it wasn’t true that the post of senior registrar had been excluded from the teaching cadre in the Bill, adding that it was non-teaching post even in the PMDC rules.
Privately, most of the senior doctors agreed with the idea that physicians unwilling to do their private evening practice in hospital premises should not claim increments and incentives.
“Yes, it’s a good step. If I am not doing private practice in the hospital premises, I should not expect incentives,” said a senior physician and head of his department.
Meanwhile, the medicine department of Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) on Saturday held a meeting and decided to resume duties from Monday. Heads of other departments in the KTH have also scheduled meetings on Monday to discuss calling off the strike.

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