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November 8, 2019

On high court orders: Doctors, paramedics call off strike in Punjab

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November 8, 2019

LAHORE: The Grand Health Alliance (GHA), a conglomeration of associations of doctors and medical staff, announced calling off their strike from Friday (today) in compliance with Lahore High Court’s order after a 29-day boycott of services in government hospitals all over Punjab.

“Doctors, nurses and paramedics shall resume services in hospitals across Punjab on Friday after LHC’s assurance to fulfill GHA’s judicious demands,” announced Dr Salman Haseeb Chaudhry, Chairman GHA, at a press conference held here at Punjab Institute of Cardiology on Thursday night. He said the LHC has formed a judicial committee to mediate between the government and the medical community’s representatives to help resolve GHA’s grievances and resume health delivery services in hospitals in the province. “The GHA respects honorable Lahore High Court’s order and therefore announces calling off strike unlike the Punjab government which continues to victimize the protesting doctors, nurses and other medical staff in contravention to the LHC orders in this regard,” he added.

“We will give our recommendations for reforms to help improve health delivery services in hospitals and expect the Punjab government to withdraw its orders of victimization of doctors, nurses and medical staff forthwith,” Dr Salman said.

Earlier, healthcare crisis in public sector hospitals deepened due to the Punjab government’s punitive action against doctors and medical staff for partaking in the ongoing strike in the province. The Punjab government’s high-powered committee met GHA leaders but talks remained inconclusive as both the stakeholders shared their respective standpoints regarding the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Act 2019.

The GHA’s strike continued in public sector hospitals, except in emergencies, for the 29th day on Thursday to protest against the MTI Act being dubbed an attempt to privatize government hospitals. The Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education (SHC&ME) Department has sacked Dr Qasim Ali, President Young Doctors Association (YDA), Punjab, serving as medical officer at the Punjab Institute of Neurosciences (PINS), on account of misconduct immediately. It has also written a letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) to take action under regulations against Dr Salman Haseeb Chaudhry, Chairman GHA and PG trainee from SIMS/SHL, among three others, for participating in the strike and instigating others to join them too. The SHC&ME recommendation regarding punitive action to the CPSP regarding other three PG trainees includes Dr Aqib Javed, AIMC/JHL, Dr Amar Yousaf, AMC/LGH, and Dr Bilal Pasha, Mayo Hospital.

Moreover, the Department, under Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA) Act 2006, found three doctors and four nurses of the Jinnah Hospital guilty of misconduct and negligence. Three MOs including Dr Zahid Sarfraz, Dr Muhammad Muzammil Aslam Khtaria and Dr Javed Iqbal Raheel and four Charge Nurses Sobia Ishaque, Farhat, Zahida Hussain and Nusrat are found involved in campaigning and observance of strikes at their respective hospitals, which disrupted the provision of healthcare facilities to patients and their actions multiplied the agony and miseries of poor patients.

Meanwhile, the Medical Teachers Association (MTA), SIMS/SHL chapter, in its meeting held under the chairmanship of President Prof Muhammad Amjad here on Thursday expressed concern over the present crisis in teaching institutions and offered cooperation to help resolve the issue. It was of the view that the MTI Act must be implemented gradually in consultation with all stakeholders. It also observed that the CPSP must not be dragged into dirty medical politics of Punjab. It urged the government to emphasize all medical teaching institutions to revive medical teachers associations in their institutions, which is a legal requirement.

Meanwhile, almost a month long boycott of duties by the doctors and medical staff in indoor wards, outdoor wards, operation theatres and central laboratories is multiplying the miseries of hapless patients. New admissions to indoor wards are also being denied to poor patients due to closure of OPDs.

Thousands of patients are being deprived of treatment of minor operations, consultation, diagnosis and treatment of their ailments and injuries 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.

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

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