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May 15, 2019

After one month closure: LRH announces resumption of surgical procedures at cardiac surgery dept

Peshawar

May 15, 2019

PESHAWAR: Succumbing to political pressure, the administration of Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) after unnecessarily keeping the lone cardiac surgery department closed for over a month has announced the resumption of surgical procedures in the cardiovascular department.

The LRH Board of Governors (BoG) had in February 2019 stopped some surgeons from conducting procedures due to the alleged high mortality rate in the cardiovascular department and recommended additional training to them to improve their skills.

The BoG had also removed head of the department Prof Riaz Anwar from his position and appointed a junior surgeon Dr Ajab Khan, an assistant professor, as head of the department.

According to insiders, the LRH administration neither provided any equipment nor removed the deficiencies of the cardiac surgery department due to which it was closed a month ago.

“Now it is better to ask medical director Dr Suleman Khan on what grounds he had closed the department and caused agony to the patients. It is the job of the honourable court to hold him accountable,” an official of the LRH administration said.

At that time, the hospital administration claimed the decision was made following proper audit of the cardiovascular department due to complaints about high mortality rate. Senior faculty members and those aware of the politics of LRH, however, refused to believe this. Rather, they termed it the outcome of the cold war between Dr Nausherwan Burki and his men and Prof Riaz Anwar and his anti-MTI supporters.

Besides other issues, Dr Riaz Anwar and Dr Burki developed differences over the PGMI. “Dr Burki and his supporters planned to target Dr Riaz Anwar but they couldn’t do so as he too was very powerful. So it was easy for them to target the cardiovascular department which no doubt had serious issues,” said an insider of the hospital administration.

He said this fight among the influential people not only damaged the cardiovascular department of LRH but also badly affected career of some of the skilled young cardiac surgeons.

Earlier, Dr Riaz Anwar and Dr Ajab Khan with five percent mortality were allowed to continue cardiac surgeries but were directed to demonstrate a decrease in mortality to two percent within three months. When some of the affected surgeons challenged at the Peshawar High Court (PHC) the decision of the LRH administration headed by a junior faculty member Dr Suleman Khan, an assistant professor, the hospital administration shut the entire cardiovascular department and stopped all type of procedures.

As only poor patients or those having Sehat card holders used to come to LRH, they remained the ultimate victims, even though patients were required to wait for more than two years for the cardiac surgery.

LRH is the only public sector hospital of the province that has cardiovascular department. It always remained overburdened with patients.

Prof Abdul Malik used to be the first choice of cardiac patients because of his skills. The patients used to wait for two years as they wanted him to do their surgery.

“If you ask me, there were a few trained and skilled cardiac surgeons including Prof Malik, Dr Jibran and Dr Imran but some individuals didn’t want them to continue working in LRH as successful cardiac surgeons. Such elements promoting their vested interests succeeded in their nefarious designs by getting rid of these qualified people. In the process, they caused a huge loss to the cardiovascular department as well as the poor patients,” a senior faculty member of the hospital told The News.

Pleading anonymity, he said LRH had always suffered due to “dirty” politics of the doctors, but some of them successfully used Dr Nausherwan Burki for their interests to allegedly settle old score with some of their opponents.

Being cousin of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Dr Nausherwan Burki is the architect of the health reforms, known as MTI Act 2015, and is the chairman of BoG LRH. He has been the de facto health minister of KP since 2014.

The way the LRH administration handled this so-called episode of mortality rate disappointed Prof Malik and he chose to resign from his job after 17 years of service.

Those close to him told The News that Prof Malik left the hospital and the department with a broken heart. He joined a private medical college and hospital in Peshawar.

Most of the faculty members in LRH complained about the attitude of the medical director, saying some of the seniors had left and others were considering quitting.

“Only and only Dr Burki and people close to him are responsible for the poor state of affairs in cardiology and cardiovascular surgery. The doctors in these developments had been asking for more instruments, equipment and trained qualified staff for the past many years. In the past four to five years, not a single equipment or instrument had been provided to these departments,” said one cardiac surgeon.

He said how Dr Burki talked about attaining international standards but had failed to address their basic concerns.

“For four operation theatres in cardiac surgery, we have only two bypass machines instead of four. Besides many other serious deficiencies, we don’t have a single trained intensivist for ICU. After six hours of surgery, the surgeons need to sit with the patient for another four to five hours in ICU to monitor them. Does this happen in any other cardiac centre?” the cardiac surgeon asked.

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