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October 17, 2020

Protesting doctors, police at each other’s throat at JPMC

Karachi

October 17, 2020

Protesting doctors and paramedics accused police of manhandling them and slapping a colleague at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on Friday. Police, however, rejected the accusation.

According to Inspector Arshad Afridi, the Saddar police SHO, a pregnant woman was undergoing ultrasound in the morning at the hospital’s radiology department when a group of protesting doctors and paramedics barged into the ultrasound room, thrashing the patient’s attendants and asking the female radiologist to immediately leave the premises or face the consequences because they were on a strike against the creation of the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) and the suspension of the Covid-19 risk allowance.

“When the patient’s husband tried to prevent the protestors from entering into the ultrasound room, he was badly thrashed by the protesting doctors and paramedics. The poor man approached us as his wife was seriously sick and a delay in the treatment could endanger not only her life but her child too,” said Inspector Afridi while talking to The News.

“In these circumstances, we could not sit idle and let the patients suffer who come from far-flung areas for treatment at the JPMC,” he said. He said attendants of several patients also approached them when the protesting doctors and paramedics moved from one ward to the other, forcing their colleagues and senior doctors not to see patients in the OPDs and stopping radiological procedures.

It is pertinent to mention here that OPDs are closed in Karachi’s most of the public hospitals, including the JPMC, the Civil Hospital Karachi, the National Institute of Child Health, the Lyari General Hospital, on the appeal of the Grand Health Allowance which is not allowing patients to be examined and treated at any of these facilities since Monday because of the strike. Thousands of patients are suffering due to the suspension of the health services at public health facilities for the last few days.

The protesting doctors and paramedics at the JPMC got infuriated on Friday morning when police officials tried to prevent them from closing down OPDs and interrupting medical procedures and staging a protest demonstration at the office of JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali.

The protestors said police slapped one of their colleagues while they were threatened of dire consequences by the police officials. But Saddar police officials said they did not “touch anybody” and just prevented the protestors from forcibly closing down OPDs and other departments.

“We have to protect people, especially patients. We did not touch any doctor but asked them to let the senior doctors and other specialists do their job and help the patients,” Inspector Afridi said.

On the other hand, protesting doctors accused the JPMC administration of using police to disrupt their protest, saying they peacefully gathered at the Najmuddin Auditorium when police used force against them, manhandled some of their colleagues and tried to abduct them.

Speaking at a demonstration in front of the executive director’s office, protesting doctors threatened that if the SHO was not removed and action was not taken against him, they would boycott ward duties also and further threatened that they would close down the entire hospital if their demands were not met by the authorities.

JPMC Executive Director Dr Seemin Jamali said she was not at the hospital when “the scuffle broke between police and the protesting doctors and paramedics”. She said some patients and their attendants approached the police and sought their help after they were denied treatment by the protesting doctors and paramedics for the last few days.