Pressure grows on Punjab health system
LAHORE, July 3: As the Punjab government and the striking doctors stuck to their stance on the issue of strike and service structure, the patients continued to suffer owing to the absence of a large number of trained medics from the state-run hospitals. On directives of the health department, heads of most of the teaching and district hospitals started issuing show-cause notices on Tuesday to the striking doctors with a warning to ‘resume their duties within 24 hours or face termination’, a source said.
The provincial government warned that an unconditional end to the strike would be the only option before initiating dialogue on the demand for service structure, while the agitating doctors termed it a futile exercise.
Office-bearers of the Young Doctors’ Association asked the government to release immediately all the arrested doctors, quash FIRs and withdraw termination orders against them to get the emergency departments fully functional.
The young doctors continued their strike in the emergency and outpatient departments.
Mediation efforts of senior doctors, including the provincial chapters of the Medical Teachers Association and Pakistan Medical Association, bore no fruit.
Consequently, the level of healthcare standard in the emergencies and the OPDs could not improve despite posting of around 700 more doctors at the hospitals on Tuesday.
A senior official of the health department claimed that the striking doctors had started returning to their duties. He said 171 striking doctors had resumed work — 30 in Mayo Hospital, 25 in Jinnah Hospital, 68 in Services Hospital, five in Allied Hospital, Faisalabad, 19 in Nishtar Hospital, Multan, 15 in Rawalpindi hospitals and nine in Bahawal Victoria Hospital.
The government released 24 of 33 doctors arrested in a crackdown on July 1 from Services Hospital and claimed they had given undertaking that they would not take part in agitation and would resume their duties.
The YDA Punjab claimed the detainees released were medical students.
Branches of the Medical Teachers Association in various teaching hospitals continued to threaten to withdraw their services if the government did not release all the doctors forthwith.
The situation particularly worsened at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology when the MTA warned that the institution would be closed if the doctors were not released.
Around a dozen cardiac surgeons also withdrew their services from the OPD and some other departments of the PIC.
The health department said it had appointed 11 cardiac consultants at the PIC from other districts after the senior doctors stopped work on MTA’s call.
The department issued appointment orders on Tuesday of another 672 doctors, including 400 women medical officers (WMOs) and 200 medical officers recruited by the Punjab Public Service Commission and 72 arranged from Social Security Hospitals.