Wednesday May 25, 2022

Services remain suspended at Nowshera hospital despite PHC orders

January 20, 2022

PESHAWAR: A group of doctors reportedly backed by a local political figure continued to suspend services despite orders of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) which had directed the Health Department and administration of Qazi Hussain Ahmad Medical Complex hospital in Nowshera to call off the strike and resume services with immediate effect.

The situation had become quite explosive as the district administration of Nowshera had planned to use force after a group of health workers refused to end the strike.

“The assistant commissioner along with heavy police contingents had arrived at the hospital and was ready to take action against a group of protesting workers after they refused to end the strike. However, the hospital administration, particularly Medical Director Dr Khalid Khan and Hospital Director Dr Arshad Khan intervened and played a role in defusing the situation,” a senior faculty member of the institution told The News on condition of anonymity.

According to sources, some private people, who had nothing to do with the hospital but were instrumental in creating the present crisis, were also seen sitting in an official meeting with the assistant commissioner and police officials.

The MD and HD reportedly then explained to the protesting health workers that they will have to implement the orders of the PHC. It was in the afternoon when the protesting workers were convinced or forced to end their strike but they kept the outpatient department (OPDs) shut and suspended all other services, despite the court orders.

A group of health workers took hostage at a public sector hospital in Nowshera, named after the late leader of Jamaat-I-Islami (JI), Qazi Hussain Ahmad, and refused to allow the faculty members to attend the OPDs, and offer services in other departments of the hospital.

The crisis started after the newly constituted Board of Governors (BoG), headed by Prof Dr Nurul Iman, advertised some important technical positions of managers of departments and recruited all the managers purely on merit. According to insiders, it had irked a local politician of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) after his nominees were ignored as they lacked the qualifications required for those positions.

And thus they organised a protest, suspended services in the hospital and kept demanding of the government to replace the entire board, particularly the chairman.

According to sources in the Health Department, the faculty members were happy with the present board, the decisions it had made and the reforms it introduced in a short time of three months, but they were not provided security by the hospital administration to provide services.

“The faculty members are in a better position and feel happy with the present board members as they believe the board in a very short span of time has put the institution on the right track. But they need government support to discourage undue political interference in the hospital,” an official of the Health Department told The News while requesting to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, according to the official, the chief minister on Wednesday accepted the resignations of four members of the BoG, including Malik Aftab, Anjum Khattak Prof Irshad Khattak and Dr Tahir.

They were stated to have been taken on the board on the basis of their political links and preferred to quit when the board came under pressure from a powerful figure to adjust his nominees without merit. They couldn’t sustain the political pressure and resigned in a difficult time. However, three other members of the BoG including Shahab Khattak, Dr Humaira Gilani and Prof Noorul Iman stood firm to face the challenge. Three of them were appreciated by the faculty members of Nowshera as well as elsewhere in the medical fraternity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to sources in Nowshera, the news of accepting resignations of the four members by the chief minister was communicated to the protesting health workers in a different way.

Those present there told The News that a retired security official previously serving as a deputy administration officer in the hospital announced in a loud voice that the entire board has been dissolved.

The protesting workers started celebrating after listening to the unverified news from the former deputy administration officer. They said some of the workers and officials used very negative and insulting language against the BoG members.

Since there was no such position of deputy administration officer in the MTI Act, therefore the BoG had relieved the retired security officer from his responsibility.