One week, still no breakthrough

Young Doctor Strike

LAHORE: No breakthrough has been achieved as the doctors strike enters the seventh day across public hospitals in Punjab, putting lives of thousands of patients in danger.

Despite a week, the government could not convince the young doctors to end the strike. Even the appeal of the chief minister to the young doctors to resume services fell on deaf ears.“My mother has been experiencing severe pain in the abdomen and we have come from Sheikhupura, only to find out that the doctors are on a strike,” Mushtaq Gondal from Mandibahaudin at Mayo Hospital told Media.The situation is even worse in the far flung districts where the health facilities are poor even in normal circumstances. YDA President Dr Hamid Butt said no official had been given the mandate to negotiate and take some steps and hence no thaw has been achieved. He further said there was now a one point agenda of service structure for doctors otherwise the strike would not end.

CM’s advisor on Health Khawaja Salman Rafiq said the government has been trying to resolve the matter through talks but the doctors have been stubborn. He said the government offered the doctors an olive branch by accepting their demands and assured them that the government can modify its decision for transfer but the doctors remained stubborn. He said the government could only hold talks and can do nothing else.Senator Pervaiz Rasheed said everyone should stop going beyond the law of state. He said the government could not accept the blackmailing of doctors and cannot take back a decision taken by the Punjab Public Service Commission.

The chief minister during a media briefing appealed to the young doctors to resume duties because strike is against the law. He further said the strike was tantamount to blackmailing and the government will not accept it.Moreover, YDA office bearers have said that the incompetent officers in the Punjab Health Department had designed a plot against the elected provincial government and were trying to create infighting amongst the doctors. “There is no service structure for the young doctors and our seniors are being made to work in the Health Department in the same grade for over 17 years. There is no written policy and irregularities have been committed in the past for example doctors working in the cancer wards had been transferred to cardiology hospitals and doctors of aneasthesia were transferred to places where there are no operation theatres,” a young doctor said.

Young doctors further said the Health Department officials had failed to control corruption in their department and were trying to portray that everything was being done on merit when the situation was otherwise.YDA demanded that a regular services structure of the doctors be made immediately and these illegal transfers be taken back and proper seniority list and a merit policy be made for transfer posting in the Health Department. They said the Health Department had failed to have a meeting with the doctors in the last 5 days to resolve this issue, which showed there incompetence. – PT