KP medics to hold another protest at LRH on Friday

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PESHAWAR: The Grand Health Alliance has announced protest at Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) again on Friday, a week after police beat and detained its members, as the province-wide strike of medics continued for the eighth day on Thursday.

“The alliance has been under pressure from its members to withdraw emergency services but its leaders want to use this as last option towards ending their standoff with the health department,” sources said.

The three Peshawar-based medical teaching institutions including LRH, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex received 15,000 patients per day. About 1,500 patients on an average per day were operated on and more than triple of this number underwent investigations in these hospitals. However, all these procedures have been suspended due to strike.

The GHA has also got rare support from the private health sector this time because most consultants have closed their clinics first against the thrashing of general surgeon Dr Ziauddin at Khyber Teaching Hospital and use of police force against their colleagues during the protest.

The consultants also donate funds to the GHA activists, who have kept the show alive. They have been able to shut down all services at the hospitals throughout the province.

The number of patients in hospitals has also dropped and beds are getting empty after lingering of the strike.

Apart from invoking essential service law by the government and similar orders by medical teaching institutions, the district health officers and medical superintendents are asking the employee to remain present at their duty places and seek prior permission before leaving but there is a complete suspension of healthcare activities in the province.

No efforts are in sight from the government to calm down protesting medics and resume health services at more than 1,500 government-owned facilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The accidents and emergency wards of the public sector hospitals received a double number of patients as compared to normal days as people reverted there after finding the OPD closed.

“Withdrawal of emergency service is the last option and it may be discussed in the next meeting after two days,” GHA spokesman Dr Hazrat Akbar told Dawn.

According to him, they demand action against the police for baton charging, wounding and detaining peaceful demonstrators at LRH on Friday last.

GHA acting chairman Dr Rizwan Rajput told journalists at Hayatabad Medical Complex on Wednesday that violence against doctors by police was not acceptable and all the responsible persons should be brought to justice.

“We demand the removal of SSP, DSP, SHO and administration for use of force against health employees, who have the right to protest. We are against the regional and district health authorities because these are meant to deprive people of healthcare facilities,” he said.

Dr Rizwan said that doctors, paramedics, nurses and other health workers were determined to thwart the government’s attempts to privatize healthcare services.