Pak Army doctors called in Punjab hospitals
02 July, 2012
LAHORE: Patients and their relatives saw a ray of hope when out-patient department (OPDs) started to work after Pakistan Army doctors reached different hospitals across Punjab to treat patients in place of young doctors Monday morning, Geo News reported.
Army doctors along with other senior doctors have started treating the patients at Mayo and Services Hospital in Lahore, however, the arrangements appear insufficient as compared to the serious situation emerged due to young doctors' strike that has entered its fourteenth day.
Overwhelming number of patients is being witnessed at different hospitals while emergency wards are already under tremendous work pressure.
Young doctors are still on strike in Rawalpindi, therefore, the Army doctors have reached at various hospitals including Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Holy Family and DHQ Hospital to look after the patients in OPDs.
Police contingents have also been deployed to control any unpleasant situation.
Doctors in uniform are also discharging duties in various hospitals of Multan and Bahawalpur along with the other senior doctors.
The step to call Army doctors was taken after five patients lost lives across Punjab when the doctors on duty deliberately left them in the lurch to show solidarity with Young Doctors Association (YDA) leaders arrested in Lahore.
Four patients including a minor girl and a woman died of negligence on part of young doctors, who were busy staging a strike in the wake of a crackdown on YDA members instead of looking after the critical ones in Faisalabad's Allied Hospital.
Whereas a baby also died in Lahore as no doctor was around to take care of it.
Dozens of doctors were also arrested after Punjab police stormed into the Services Hospital Lahore at a time when the protesting doctors' emergency meeting was underway.
Meanwhile, services of twenty-four doctors who actively participated in the strike were terminated.
Earlier, Punjab Health Department announced to blacklist the candidature of all the doctors on strike for government jobs if they didn't end strike and resume their duties from today.
'Treatment' of angry young doctors begins
More than 50 doctors were arrested on Sunday night after the Punjab government approved a massive operation against the doctors protesting for the past two weeks.
Police barged into the Services Hospital's hostels when the protesting doctors were holding an emergency meeting to chalk out their future course of action. Even before reaching the meeting room, the police arrested a number of doctors on duty inside the hospital. The police broke into the meeting room, but the doctors managed to escape by jumping out of the wall cavity for a window air conditioner. The police, however, failed to arrest all senior Young Doctors' Association (YDA) officials present in meeting.
Moreover, the provincial government terminated the services of 24 doctors for instigating protests against the government. The Health Department issued a notification late Sunday night, dismissing the doctors who had been on strike for the past two weeks. Earlier, the Health Department had announced to blacklist all the protesting doctors for government jobs if they refused to end the strike and resume their duties from today (Monday). The government said it would write to Gulf missions, asking them not to hire these doctors. A Health Department spokesman said the record of young doctors on strike was also being sent to the British College of Physicians and embassies, urging them not to accommodate the protesting doctors.
Meanwhile, the YDA shut down the emergency and indoor wards of various hospitals across the province, and announced a complete strike from today in reaction to police raids. The association had earlier rejected the Punjab government's demand to end its ongoing strike unconditionally. The association said that indoor services would remain suspended along with the already closed OPDs. Just an hour after the raids, doctors at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology shut down the indoor and emergency wards of the hospital to show solidarity with their fellows. Over in Faisalabad, senior doctors joined hands with the YDA and refused to attend patients at the Civil and Allied hospitals. A similar situation was reported from Multan, where the young doctors quit working at the Nishtar Medical Hospital and walked out.
The decisions came hours after the talks between the protesting YDA members and senior doctors failed to reach any understanding. The government authorities tasked a delegation of senior doctors, led by Lahore General Hospital Principal Professor Tariq Salahuddin, to hold negotiations with the YDA members for ending their strike across the province.
Senior doctors held three rounds of talks with the young doctors, but failed in their efforts to persuade the YDA to end the two-week-long strike.
Later, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif held a late-night meeting of senior officials to deal with the protesting doctors. The meeting was attended among others by the Punjab Police inspector general (IG), deputy inspector general (DIG), capital city police officer (CCPO), senior superintendent of police, home secretary and the chief secretary.
The meeting talked at length about the problems being created by the doctors, and the security arrangements to be provided to doctors coming to work today (Monday). According to sources, the decision to launch the crackdown on doctors was made at that meeting.
The Health Department had earlier said that more than 400 medical officers had been appointed in various hospitals of the province. It said women medical officers had been selected through the Public Service Commission and their posting plan had been uploaded on the website of the Health Department. Also, doctors from the army medical corps had been called to perform duties at public hospitals.
The government also decided to appoint another 1,000 medical officers. The health secretary reportedly acquired a list of doctors from the Public Service Commission on Sunday for this purpose, and announced that walk-in interviews would be held today and on Tuesday.
The government announced that OPDs in hospitals of Lahore and throughout Punjab would start receiving treatment from today onwards.