Kazmi, Butt groups squabble over YDA leadership

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Although the Young Doctors Association (YDA) has called off its strike in public sector hospitals, the main groups within are squabbling over leadership. YDA’s Salman Kazmi group and Hamid Butt group are trying frantically to take all credit for the gains the association has made.
YDA was formed in July 2008 after a furore over the death of female patient Sadaf Munir in Mayo Hospital’s emergency ward. Her relatives blamed doctors’ negligence for her death. Prof Dr Javed Akram in his enquiry report put responsibility on doctors. Following this report, YDA was formed to highlight the genuine issues faced by young doctors.
YDA’s first meeting was held at Mayo Hospital’s college canteen. After a series of strikes, YDA succeeded in achieving its main objectives including regularisation of doctors and pay raise for postgraduate trainee doctors. In January 2009, YDA called for a strike. The doctors from the Hamid Butt group not only suspended their services at Services Hospital and General Hospital but also refused to let patients enter the hospital premises and about 50 doctors were arrested during the strike.
On the other hand, the Kazmi group, condemned Hamid Butt group’s actions. In November 2009, Hamid Butt announced YDA Punjab and claimed it was the real representative of young doctors. In response, the Kazmi group formed YDA Pakistan from Layyah and also got it registered with the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Hamid Butt, however, registered his YDA Punjab from Lahore after about one and a half years.
Both groups have been raising their voices for young doctors but with different approaches. The Kazmi group announced strikes in outpatient departments (OPDs) and also suspended services at emergency wards. On the other hand, the Butt group announced complete strikes in OPDs, in indoor departments and in emergency wards. A number of patients expired due to a lack of medical treatment during the doctors’ strike.
The YDA Punjab suspended services in public sectors hospitals all over the Punjab for 37 days. Punjab government officials and the Health Department arranged about 22 meetings with the Hamid Butt group but failed to reach an agreement even on a single point. Later, the Health Department decided to take all parties on board including PMA, the Medical Teachers Association (MTA), the Punjab Paramedics Alliance (PPA) and staff nurses YDA’s Kazmi group and finalized a Rs 5.2 billion pay package for all stakeholders.
The Kazmi group claimed that the success was the result of their positive strategy which helped save lives of thousands of patients. YDA President Dr Rana Suhail told Pakistan Today that the Kazmi group wanted to pressurize the Punjab government but not at the cost of patients. He said the pay package approved by the Punjab government was the same that they had demanded in 2010, which was proof of their success. He thanked Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the Punjab cabinet for their support.
He said the Kazmi group had no links to the Butt group and it had nothing to do with its strike. YDA (Butt group) Press Secretary Dr Aftab Ashraf told Pakistan Today that the Rs 5.2 billion pay package was the result of their struggle for doctors. He also said the YDA did not pressurize the Punjab government. He said welcoming the Punjab government’s pay package announcement, YDA called off its strike for five days. He, however, said the Butt group had some reservations over the announcement made by Sardar Zulifqar Khosa.
He demanded the Punjab government issue the service structure notification this week, otherwise it would again give a strike call. He said that YDA Punjab’s general council would meet on Monday to decide its future strategy.