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July 10, 2019

Protesting nurses slam govt for not holding talks to resolve their problems


July 10, 2019

Nurses protesting outside the Karachi Press Club since July 4 have condemned the government for not making any effort to hold negotiations with them to help resolve their problems and put an end to the miseries of the patients suffering because of their boycott of their responsibilities.

The protesters have threatened to boycott the emergency services at all public hospitals in the city as well as in the rest of the Sindh starting on Wednesday (today).

Young doctors including house officers and postgraduate students have been requested to help their seniors dispense medicines to patients in the wards, assist surgeons in operation theatres (OTs) and help critically sick patients in intensive care units of the city’s major public hospitals as the nurses continue to boycott their responsibilities to try to pressurise the authorities into accepting their demands.

Karachi’s major public hospitals, including the National Institute of Child Health, the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and the Civil Hospital Karachi, admitted very few patients while dozens of surgeries were postponed or cancelled due to the boycott of the nursing staff.

Four leaders of nurses, namely Aijaz Kaleri, Ghulam Dastagir, Heeralal and Atta Hussain, also started a hunger strike at their protest camp outside the press club on Monday, saying that they would “starve themselves to death” if their demands were not met by the health department, warning that more nurses could join them.

The protesting nurses have also warned of boycotting emergency departments of all the public hospitals if the health department did not honour its commitment and an agreement with them.

According to the agreement, the nurses were supposed to be promoted in accordance with a four-tier formula, they were to be paid health professional allowance and several other demands were also to be met by the provincial government within a fortnight of the agreement.

Health Secretary Saeed Awan said they were ready to accept the genuine demands of the medical and paramedical staff and the nurses, adding that they were going to resubmit a summary to the chief minister for the nurses’ promotions and for resolving their financial issues.

“We had forwarded a summary to the finance department but it was turned down by the CM on the observations made by the finance department. We are now going to resubmit the summary to the CM,” Awan said, advising the protesters to call off their strike in the interest of the patients.

Officials at the three major hospitals of the city said health services were badly affected, as patients could not be attended to properly and many serious patients had to be referred to charity or private hospitals for treatment and medical care.

They said they had urged the house officers, postgraduate students and even medical students to assist the doctors in taking care of the patients in the wards, while doctors were assisting surgeons in the OTs.

“It is becoming immensely difficult for us to run the wards and manage the patients without the help and assistance of the nursing staff, but we have sought the cooperation of house officers and postgraduate medical students to do the job of the nurses. We have also requested house officers to increase their working hours and also do nights to help save lives,” the incharge of a medicine ward at the Civil Hospital said.

MPAs meet protesters

Khurrum Sher Zaman and Seema Zia of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf visited the protest camp of the nurses and assured them that the opposition in the Sindh Assembly would put forward their demands before the treasury benches.

“The demands of the nurses are justified. The Sindh government and its health department have miserably failed to protect the rights of the workers and employees. We demand that the health minister resign for her failure to amicably run health facilities,” Zaman said.

Seema also criticised the provincial government, claiming that it was corrupt, and that even though it had embezzled billions of rupees, they had no money to pay the nurses, who were the backbone of the health sector.

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