Doctors’ strike rages on | Pakistan Today

Doctors’ strike rages on

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD/KARACHI – A very low turnout of patients was observed at all major hospitals across Punjab, as the Young Doctors Association (YDA) continued the strike on Saturday.
Senior doctors also told their institutional heads about their “inability” to manage wards without young doctors, only adding to the miseries of patients, Pakistan Today has learnt. Per directions from the Health Department, heads of teaching hospitals directed senior doctors to ensure “smooth working”, however, the faculty reiterated its stance of not being able to handle the workload without subordinate doctors.
Senior faculty members at King Edward Medical University (KEMU) in a joint meeting with the Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Asad Aslam expressed their inability to attend patients in the absence of young doctors in wards. Resultantly, little or no work was observed in wards, while a small number of patients were examined in emergency wards and OPD.
A department head at Mayo Hospital said, “The young doctors have refused to budge and the VC has tasked us with patient care, which is impossible…the government has declared healthcare an essential service only to break the unity of doctors…we have already conveyed our inability to the VC.”
A more or less similar situation was observed in other hospitals despite work continuing at emergency and OPD wards.A senior surgeon at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said, “Only gynecology patients are being attended while there has been little work in other wards…only medical superintendents and college principals cannot run the hospitals…they give assurance to the high ups that they can manage it, but in fact they cannot.”
Per figures of the Health Department, the number of patients examined at Mayo Hospital was 372 patients in emergency and 680 in OPD. In Mayo Hospital, the daily patients visiting the OPD and emergency ward on average is nearly 4,000. On directions from the Health Department, medical superintendents at various hospitals also received applications to fill vacant posts left by the protesting doctors.
Nearly 70 doctors have been recruited in various teaching hospitals across the provincial metropolis to run the affairs. In Islamabad, talks between protesting doctors and Health Secretary Nargis Sethi failed to achieve results and YDA vowed to continue with strike.YDA President Dr Muhammad Ajmal said the health secretary asked them to call off the strike first, but doctors did not trust her.
“When we requested the secretary to give us written assurance about our demands, she refused to do so,” Dr Ajmal said. Earlier, YDA staged a protest demonstration against the government for not accepting their demands.Many doctors gathered outside the emergency ward of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and shouted slogans against the government.
Also, professors, associate professors and assistant professors of Allied Hospitals and Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) formally announced their full backing for YDA, urging the Punjab government to accept their genuine demands. In Karachi, “young doctors” of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, the biggest public sector hospital in Sindh, also announced to observe strike on Tuesday, April 5.
Following the doctors agitation in Punjab, a general body meeting of doctors held on Saturday at Ward-3 of the JPMC founded the Sindh chapter of the Young Doctors Association by electing a 10-member general council. Dr Abbas Shah, a leader of the newly formed YDA Sindh said around 1,000 young doctors working in the JPMC had become members of the association and announced to support the strike buy the young doctors in Punjab.
They condemned police action, especially registration of murder FIRs against Punjab’s doctors. Shah said Tuesday’s strike would be to protest the police action against doctors in Punjab, and in favour of a demand by JPMC doctors that their pay scale should be brought at par with those of doctors serving in Punjab.

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