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Govt forms committee to hold talks with GHA

November 06, 2019

LAHORE: The Punjab government has constituted a high-powered committee to hold negotiations with the representatives of the Grand Health Alliance (GHA) whose strike entered 27th day in public sector hospitals in Punjab on Tuesday.

The young consultants, young doctors, nurses, paramedics and allied health professionals are continuing their protest against, what they called, privatization of hospitals under the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Act 2019, on seventh day in indoor wards and 27th day in Out-Patients Department (OPDs) and all elective procedures at Operation Theatres (OTs) and central laboratories.

The Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Department issued a notification on Tuesday while de-notifying an earlier committee constituted on October 18. The five-member committee is headed by Additional Chief Secretary Sardar Ajaz Ahmed Khan (Convener) and has four members Special Secretary SHC&ME Shakeel Ahmed, Vice Chancellor Fatima Jinnah Medical University Prof Aamer Zaman, Chief Executive Mayo Hospital Prof Asad Aslam Khan and former Director General Health Dr Zahid Pervaiz. The commit will start dialogue with the GHA representatives on Wednesday (today) and take measures to resolve all issues for resuming service delivery to patients. The committee will hear grievances of the protesting healthcare providers to identify their reservations and proposed amendments regarding the MTI (Reforms) Act 2019.

Meanwhile, in a press conference at the Services Hospital on Tuesday, GHA Chairman Dr Salman Haseeb Chaudhry along with other office-bearers condemned the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) for canceling the registration of postgraduate trainees for residency programme for protesting in hospitals, saying that the CPSP being a doctors representative body cannot become a tool in government hands.

They also condemned the provincial government for victimizing doctors and medical staff either through terminations, transfers, stoppage of promotions, cancellation of service structure, etc. Besides, they said, the government is harassing doctors through Pakistan Medical Commission after dissolving Pakistan Medical and Dental Council. The boycott of duties by doctors and medical staff in indoor wards, outdoor wards, operation theatres and central laboratories is multiplying the miseries of hapless patients.

Thousands of patients are being deprived of treatment of minor operations, consultation, diagnosis and treatment of their ailments on a daily basis, while the worst-hit are those who have been traveling from far-off districts to reach the mega teaching institutions only to be disappointed due to lack of healthcare services.

However, an extraordinary rush of patients has been witnessed in emergency wards of all hospitals, where consultation services are also being offered to OPD patients. Several patients have to go to private hospitals for elective procedures which puts extra financial burden on their pockets.

The GHA has announced continuing the strike till the reversal of all victimization and withdrawal of the MTI Act, while all doctors, nurses and paramedical staff will hold protest camps in hospitals all over Punjab. “The GHA will be forced to close emergencies if protesters’ demands are not accepted,” it warned.

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