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September 24, 2019

PIMS stakeholders serve deadline for withdrawal of Reforms Act

Islamabad

September 24, 2019

Islamabad : Unanimously rejecting the PIMS Reforms Act 2019 during a daylong protest that entailed closure of the hospital’s Out-Patient and OT Departments on Monday, the All Employees PIMS Restoration Movement (AEPRM) has warned the government to withdraw the proposed legislation by September 30, failing which daily protests will be observed from Monday onwards, obviously to the detriment of patient care.

Vowing to block implementation of the ‘criminal act,’ the consultants, doctors, officers, nurses, paramedics, and non-medical staff of PIMS presented their own charter of demands envisaging immediate withdrawal of the PIMS Reforms Act; closure of the chapter of Board of Governors; provision of free treatment, diagnostic services and medicines to all patients and withdrawal of all extra charges; creation of new wards within available space at PIMS, with the addition of 1,000 beds; establishment of three 1,500-bedded hospitals in Tranol, Rawat and Bhara Kau to ease patient load at PIMS; establishment of Rural Health Centres at the Union Council level for provision of round-the-clock services; immediate approval of the service structure of medical and non-medical employees; notification of a universal non-discriminatory pay package for all cadres; filling of all 70 vacant posts for grades 1 to 15, and creation of posts for hiring of new consultants; withdrawal of the Ministry of Health’s letter calling for a halt to inducted of nurses and doctors by the Federal Public Service Commission; replacement of worn-out machinery and purchase of latest equipment; and immediate replacement of the hospital’s defective heating and cooling system.

“If the government is truly sincere about reforming PIMS, then it must heed to our demands. We need extra beds and machinery, and not a Board of Governors in the name of reforms. PIMS provides medical services to 1.5 million patients each year; its indoor patients require improved services. This hospital belongs to poor patients and employees of PIMS; we will not allow it to be hijacked through implementation of the Reforms Act. We are ready to share the negotiation table with the government for parleys and will offer to constitute a Task Force for bringing about meaningful reforms in PIMS. However, if the government does not deviate from its ‘current criminal course,’ we will suspend all medical services effective October 1, and the responsibility for the consequences will rest squarely with them,” stated Dr. Asfandyar, AEPRM’s spokesman and Chairman of Young Consultants Association-Pakistan.

The AEPRM stakeholders initially gathered at the Administration Block of PIMS to register their protest, and then assembled outside the Islamabad Press Club to articulate their demands. They were holding placards inscribed with slogans such as ‘Privatization of PIMS unacceptable,’ ‘MTI Agenda Unacceptable,’ ‘Do not snatch free treatment from poor patients,’ ‘We are out to save PIMS; come join us,’ etc. Hapless patients who had traveled long distances to access medical care remained unattended all day long; there was zero activity in the operation theatres as well.

Speaking on the occasion, Professor Dr. Rauf Niazi rejected the Reforms Act on behalf of the PIMS faculty, and termed MTI as totally unacceptable. Other speakers included Dr. Prof. Syed Hashim Raza, Chairman of Nursing Association and Chairman of AEPRM Sharif Khattak, President of Non-Gazetted Employees Association Chaudhry Ayaz Gujjar, General Secretary of Paramedics Association and AEPRM Saeed Marwa President of Officers Association Nawaz Lali, and Vice President of Officers Association Sadaqat Awan among others. Other prominent consultants who participated in the protest included, among others, Dr. Anjum Khawar, Dr. Batool Mazhar, Dr. Haider Shirazi, Dr. Nadeem Haider, and Dr. Sajid Nazeer Bhatti.

Th speakers were convinced that the privatisation of PIMS would be detrimental to the interests of doctors and patients alike, and that they are not prepared for any kind of change in the hospital. Equating the implementation of the Reforms Act with usurpation of their rights, they rejected the appointment of a Board of Governors and refused to operate on the instructions of a “coterie of non-government personnel working to implement the one-man Burki agenda.” One of the speakers also criticised the Executive Director of ED. “We have already embarked on a war-path. We also reject this ED unless he stands with us on this stage, and speaks the same language as ours,” he maintained amidst loud sloganeering.

The speakers warned the government that PIMS is not ready to embrace any kind of change, and will not be presented for further experimentation, as has been the case in the past. They underlined the need to introduce reforms that rectify existing deficiencies in the hospital, rather than introducing new systems.

Speaking on the occasion, Sharif Khattak said, “We are as united as ever. We have a history of thwarting measures detrimental to the interest of PIMS stakeholders including patients, and will continue to demonstrate our collective will to reject the BoG and the MTI.” Muhammad Nawaz Lali floated the idea of establishing three 1,500-bedded hospitals in Islamabad to ease patient load on PIMS, which was created for a population of 2 lakh—now in excess of 15 lakh.

The speakers minced no words in communicating that if the government is truly sincere about reforming PIMS, it should focus on implementation of measures listed in their charter of demands. Failure to do so will be accompanied by serious consequences wherein patient care will stand severely compromised.

The protestors also announced to hold a grand protest with the participation of numerous other sections of the society such as traders, businessmen, judges, lawyers, scholars, etc. if their demands are not immediately met. “We will not be responsible for the consequences then; the government has a week to withdraw the Reforms Act,” Dr. Asfandyar concluded.

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