Govt to institute cases of criminal negligence against striking doctors | Pakistan Today

Govt to institute cases of criminal negligence against striking doctors

FAISALABAD – The Punjab government has decided to take strict action against the young doctors who have intensified their strike and have threatened to boycott even emergency wards till the acceptance of their demands.
The Young Doctors Association (YDA) continued their strike at Allied Hospital and DHQ Hospital Faisalabad for the third consecutive week to press their demand for pay rise. However, as a matter of good gesture, the young doctors on strike who are staying outside their wards decided to check up patients outside the hospital building.
The strike that has entered the third week was suspended last Tuesday when a state of emergency was declared in the hospitals of Faisalabad after a bomb blast in Civil Lines. Later, the young doctors resumed the strike.
The Punjab government, as a ploy to counter the strike call by doctors, has launched an advertising campaign in the national press giving details of the steps taken to better accommodate doctors in the medical profession. That includes recruitment of 6,000 doctors on contract basis, 1,600 doctors as medical officers through Public Service Commission, ad-hoc appointment of 400 doctors to fill vacant seats, employment of specialist doctors directly in Grade-18 and a number of promotions and increase in pay scales.
It has also been claimed in the Punjab government’s publicity campaign that four new medical colleges have been approved and an additional 950 seats created in the existing medical colleges.
But the young doctors have refuted this claim. “On one hand, the Punjab government says our demands for pay rise are justified, but cannot be met for lack of funds; on the other, they are lavishly spending the public funds on the media trial of doctors,” a young doctor said. Another junior doctor says that the salary of a newly recruited police constable is Rs. 16,000, but a newly appointed young doctor is getting Rs 18,000.
As both the sides are sticking to their positions, the stand off between the government and the striking doctors is unlikely to be resolved in coming days. In a recent development, the Punjab health secretary has directed the medical superintendents of government hospitals to prepare a list of casualties occurred at their hospitals during the strike period.
The sources say that the health authorities are thinking to initiate the cases of criminal negligence against the doctors on strike. The move is being taken as a ploy to push the young doctors to a defensive position and go back to their wards, but it has provoked the doctors.
The Allied Hospital young doctors, led by Doctor Rai Arif Hussain, condemned the government stance and held the authorities responsible for the plight of patients. The striking doctors gathered on the premises of Punjab Medical College and took out a rally. They chanted slogans against the Punjab government and the secretary health. The doctors’ procession came out of the hospital and blocked Jail Road. They held a tent at the road and checked up the patients there to symbolise that despite their strike they had not abandoned their patients.
The routine work remained suspended at other government hospitals, including DHQ Hospital, Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology (FIC), General Hospital and Social Security Hospital.
On the occasion, Dr Rai Arif Hussain and Dr Irfan addressed the rally. They said the health secretary’s stance was undermining the credibility of the Punjab government. They threatened to extend the strike to emergency wards if the authorities remained adamant. “We will not bow down to the threats and are ready to face all odds,” they said. They expressed their determination to continue strike until the fulfillment of their demands.
As the government and young doctors are pitched against each other, it is the poor masses that are bearing the brunt of the strike. The people being the real stakeholders in a democratic setup are disowned by both the sides in this sorry episode.
Faisalabad is the divisional headquarter where critical patients from Jarranwala, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh and Chiniot are referred for treatment. These patients and their families have to travel up to 100 kilometers to reach Allied Hospital or FIC only to hear that they have to go back owing to the strike.
Angry faces printed with premature wrinkles and apparent signs of abject poverty have no place to go to kill their pains. The sights of poor old women dressed in rags walking with uneven steps in the corridors of OPD are enough to prick the conscience of ordinary human beings. But the governance and politics have its own angle of seeing the things.

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