Sunday January 23, 2022

Of Nowshera hospital BoG & political meddling

January 13, 2022

PESHAWAR: The Qazi Hussain Ahmad Medical Complex (QHAMC), a tertiary care hospital of Nowshera Medical College (NMC) is again in headlines after two members of the Board of Governors went to the hospital without any meeting, allegedly used abusive language, disrupted the interview process of secretary BoG and caused damage to the hospital infrastructure.

According to insiders of the hospital, local powerful political heavyweights of Nowshera had become annoyed with the Board of Governors (BoG) after the BoG refused to recruit their nominees on important technical positions without merit.

Disappointed by the unprofessional attitude of the two BoG members, the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Khalid Khan had decided to quit. The incident sent a wave of shock among the faculty members and they wanted the hospital administration to lodge FIR against the two BoG members and demanded of Health Minister Taimur Jhagra to immediately remove them from the board.

It is stated to be a test case for the provincial government whether to honour merit and stand behind the BoG or bow to some political figures out to serve their own vested interests in the public sector hospitals.

The government had spent billions of funds on the hospital and its medical college during the last few years but it could not help improve services there, apparently due to undue political interference in the affairs of the hospital management.

The two institutions suffered from mismanagement, nepotism and lack of merit in appointments for key positions.

The institution has always been in the media for worse, mainly due to weak administrative control and external political influence.

It is because of political interference that patients from the Nowshera district are referred to Peshawar and nearby Mardan Medical Complex (MMC), also a tertiary care hospital of the same category but better managed than the health facility in Nowshera.

The government had declared the Nowshera hospital as a medical teaching institute (MTI) to run it through an autonomous Board of Governors and the basic aim was improving the services there and appointing doctors and other technical staff purely on merit.

Three years were wasted and precious resources were not properly utilised by the previous BoG, run by its chairman Gulrez Khan single-handedly.

Gulrez Khan was a contractor by profession and had no experience in hospital management but was appointed to chair the BoG of a teaching hospital.

He had told The News that he was made the board chairman by Pervez Khattak so that he couldn’t contest elections against him in Nowshera. There is a long story about how public resources were ruthlessly used to accommodate blue-eyed people of local political figures and a former medical director installed by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Isnaf (PTI) leader in Nowshera.

The government finally removed the previous one-member board and as per the MTI Act 2015, all his decisions were illegal as he had not endorsed them from remaining members of the BoG.

It has been handed over to a new Board of Governors (BoG) with its chairman, Prof Dr Nurul Iman known for honesty, integrity and quality administration.

Apart from internal administrative changes and the introduction of IBP in a span of just three months, the current board has implemented the MTI Act in letter and spirit, most notably merit-based recruitment.

Though Health Minister Taimur Jhagra took a personal interest in selecting the board members for Nowshera and Mardan, the PTI heavyweight successfully installed his nominees in the board.

Those ware of Prof Nurul Iman’s nature were happy with his appointment as chairman BoG as they thought it would help improve services in the two institutions in Nowshera and a culture of merit would be introduced.

A large number of people, most of them family members and relatives of former medical director Dr Jahangir Khan, were recruited in the hospital without fulfilling the criteria.

The BoG advertised important positions in the hospital and according to insiders of the institution, local PTI heavyweights wanted the BoG to select their nominees for those technical positions.

“The BoG chairman had already made up his mind to fill positions purely on merit. He formed committees and gave a free hand to follow merit and that was a turning point and annoyed a local influential PTI leader,” one official of the hospital told The News.

Pleading anonymity, he said there was an organised campaign to oust the BoG chairman as they believe they would not achieve their goals in his presence on the board.

Another faculty member said the incident had hurt all of them, saying after serving for a few years in Nowshera, he had realised that the local politicians had nothing to do with patient care but wanted to recruit their relatives and party workers in the institutions.

“We were lucky to have a very good board headed by a true professional, honest and visionary person Prof Nurul Iman but it seems to us some people don’t want him to stay on the board as he will not allow anyone serving their interests under his command,” he explained.

According to sources, first, after the establishment of Nowshera Medical College and its teaching hospital and then declaring it as a medical teaching institution (MTI), the BoG selected managers for various key positions purely on merit.

According to senior officials of the instruction, the BoG upheld the merit despite severe external political pressure. The six top managers were recruited, purely on the basis of merit with no one recommended by local or provincial politicians.

Syed Ahsan Ali Shah was appointed manager of human resource development. Total 45 candidates applied for the position and 19 candidates were found eligible.

Ahsan Ali Shah was selected by the selection committee. Has is masters in business administration with a specialisation in human resource from City University and MS in progress from IM Sciences, completed certification CHRP from NUST.

Ahsan Ali Shah has nine years of experience including Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) as Manager Human Resource Department, five years’ experience in Lady Ready Hospital, as senior human resource officer and three years of experience in AYS Group as manager human resource department.

Another manager selected for quality assurance was Junaid Ahmad Khan.

Twenty-two applicants applied for the same position and nine candidates were found eligible. The interview panel selected Junaid Ahmed as Manager Quality Assurance. He is a quality professional by education and profession and completed MS in Total Quality Management, PhD in Total Quality Management to be completed in 2022.

He has eight years experience in quality assurance and worked in both public and private sectors. He is a certified Lead Auditor of ISO 9001-2015, a master trainer of minimum service delivery standards and worked on JCI, Accreditation Canada and IHRA.

Mohammad Ishaq Khan was selected as manager supply chain, for which 21 candidates had applied for the manager position and seven were shortlisted.

Mohammad Ishaq Khan was selected by the interview panel.

He is a supply chain management professional with a graduation from the UK in Logistics & Supply Chain Management.

He has worked as a procurement specialist on different provincial health department flagship health projects namely the establishment of the state of art Burn Unit, at HMC Peshawar, procurement of life-saving ambulance and equipment for Malakand Division with donor agency USAID.

He also served in HMC as the manager supply chain for five years. Similarly, Abdul Nasir was appointed as manager of facilities.

Around 45 candidates applied for the manager position and only 10 were found eligible. Abdul Nasir selected by the interview panel. He completed Masters in Business Administration and MS in Project Management and is having 11 years of experience in public sector hospitals including LRH, KTH, HMC and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Healthcare Commission (KPHCC) at management Managerial and director level.

Also, he has six-year of international donor experience including USAID, UNFPA, International Rescue Committee and DFID with a total of around 17 years of experience.

Thirty-three applicants had applied for the manager internal audit and the selection committee shortlisted 10 of them and the interview panel selected Imtiaz Ahmad.

Imtiaz Ahmad is a Chartered Accountant from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP) and also member of the Institute of Public Finance Accountants.

He has a total of 10 years experience including training from Haroon Zakria & Company Chartered Accountants, Altamash General Hospital and Institute of Dental Medical College, three years experience at deputy manager Accounts & Finance at Tando Allahyar Sugar Mills Limited and presently he is working at Northwest General Hospital and School of Medicines as head of internal audit.

Another important position was a biomedical engineer for which 28 people applied and only five were shortlisted.

The panel selected Nasir Khan as a biomedical engineer.

Nasir Khan has a bachelor degree in biomedical engineering and nine years, including six years experience as section head of the biomedical engineering department Shaukat Khanum Cancer Memorial Hospital and achieved JCI Accreditation and ISO certification.

He got expertise in looking after all the medical equipment that falls under the scope of BMED which includes modular OTs, ICUs, and Clinical Diagnostic Labs etc. With these appointments, the culture of merit was initiated in NMC that badly suffered due to political interference.

It will help the medical college and the hospital and patients will no longer need to visit Mardan or Peshawar for the services supposed to be available in a rural health centre.

Health Minister Taimur Salim Jhagra avoided commenting on the issue when approached by this scribe.