YDA-govt talks ‘inconclusive’
LAHORE, Feb 7: The three principals of the government teaching hospitals of the provincial capital started negotiations with the young doctors on the 4th day of their hunger strike on Thursday. The first meeting remained ‘inconclusive’.
Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS) Principal Prof Dr Faisal Masood, Allama Iqbal Medical College Principal Prof Dr Mahmood Shaukat and Fatima Jinnah Medical College Principal Prof Dr Fakhar Imam visited the protest camp set up outside Services Hospital on the direction of the health department.
Later, a Young Doctors Association delegation, headed by Dr Hamid Butt, and the principals met at the office of Prof Faisal Masood.
Other office-bearers of YDA, including Dr Nasir Bukhari, Dr Nasir Abbas, Dr Rai Ahmad, Dr Mazhar, Dr Maroof Ahmad, Dr Hasan and Dr Matloob, were also part of the delegation.
The YDA representatives apprised the principals of their demands which particularly included provision of free medicines and diagnostic facilities to patients at all the state-run hospitals of the province, withdrawal of a criminal case lodged against their colleagues in the aftermath of the Gujranwala incident and the action taken against others under the PEEDA Act.
Both sides discussed the issue at length in the two-hour long meeting which ended with no conclusion.
“I believe the visiting principals were not mandated by the competent authority which always keeps decision power at its level,” YDA spokesman Dr Khurram Shahzad told Dawn.
He said the principals were reluctant to agree on the main demand — immediate provision of free medicines and diagnostic facilities to the poor people visiting government hospitals in Punjab.
They, however, were ready to convince the government to address other demands like termination from service and transfers of the young doctors and withdrawal of criminal case registered against some of them in Gujranwala.
Dr Khurram said the YDA delegation refused to withdraw from its ‘major’ demand of provision of free medicine and diagnostic facilities.
“Finally both sides developed a
consensus that all the demands will be presented before the health authorities for final consideration,” Dr Khurram said.
He announced that the hunger strike would continue till the acceptance of all the demands discussed in the Thursday’s meeting.
Dr Khurram Shahzad also said the YDA had taken a decision to reach the venue where the chief minister was scheduled for inauguration of the Metro Bus System on Feb 10.
“All the young doctors on hunger strike would reach the MBS track on wheelchairs to put pressure on the CM for acceptance of demands if the health authorities delayed the matter,” the YDA spokesman said.
Meanwhile, young doctors continued with their strike on Thursday and over 23 of them were shifted to the emergency department of the Services Hospital for treatment.
Dozens of young doctors belonging to government hospitals also staged a sit-in on Jail Road for two hours to express solidarity with their striking colleagues. A candlelit vigil was also organised at Liberty Roundabout by different student organisations, friends and families of the striking doctors. They were demanding of the government to address ‘genuine’ demands of the young doctors in the larger interests of the patients without any delay.