Rs 5.2b pay package for docs announced

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Monday might be flexing its muscles over what it considered to be a success by announcing a pay package worth Rs 5.2 billion for the protesting doctors and paramedics, while the latter are expected to ‘react’ on Tuesday after their consulatory meeting.This is the third attempt on the part of the government to woo the estranged medics, who deem that they had been betrayed on different occasions. Result: People suffered, as for the first time in the country’s history, public hospitals virtually remained dysfunctional for around 40 days.Last month, hundreds of doctors resigned and went on strike after the provincial government failed to meet once-promised demands for better pays and service structure and compensation as per education, leaving hospitals virtually crippled and failing to administer medication. The Young Doctors Association Punjab, claiming to have 8,000 members, demanded a minimum monthly salary of Rs 90,000, including regularisation of employment contracts. Now the YDA has support of some bigwigs of the field, like Principal Allama Iqbal Medical College Prof Javed Akram, who had threatened leading long march for getting the demands actualised.

When the YDA raised the issues with the Punjab government, a committee headed by Zulfiqar Khosa, held parleys and reached an agreement, which was later on rejected, and this made the doctors took to streets, leaving patients and hospitals to be managed by ex-Secretary Health Fawad Hassan Fawad, and muscle flexing medic-cum-MPA Dr Saeed Elahi. At one time, both were hand in glove with the YDA, and this time, perhaps knowingly docs’ prowess, were bent upon teaching a lesson to the Frankenstein, certainly gone beyond their control. Terminations, arrests and new recruitments were made, but again meetings were started.One such meeting was held at ‘official’ compound of ex-Nazim Mian Amir Mehmood, and both parties agreed to resolve the crisis through dialogue. However, the Elahi-Fawad duo tried to keep apace retributional measures, which razed the mended fences, and doctors went for afresh offence since the latter felt betrayed for the second time.Then another Zulfiqar Khosa-led cabinet committee was formed by Shahbaz Sharif, and doctors called off their strike after assurance that the government would meet their demands. – Nation