PESHAWAR: The health department has decided not to pay risk allowance to the doctors, nurses and paramedics of government hospitals involved in the diagnosis and management of coronavirus patients.
Officials of the department told media that an increase in salary, allowances and stipend had already been granted to those health professionals, so they won’t get risk allowance.
In a letter sent to the health department, the Provincial Doctors’ Association said it had long been demanding two additional salaries for the hospital staff members performing Covid-19 duties and 30 per cent pay raise over their role in Covid-19 management.
It said the Shuhada Package approved by the government in April last year had been extended to 15 families of the 107 doctors and other health workers, who contracted coronavirus while performing duties before passing away.
The PDA demanded the release of funds for the Corona Rapid Response Teams to strengthen coronavirus management in hospitals.
When contacted, health secretary Syed Imtiaz Hussain Shah said the department appreciated the role of health workers in the fight against Covid-19 and therefore, their salaries, stipends and other allowances were increased by at least 20 per cent.
He said most lucrative financial package was given to the medics working in remote and backwards areas of the province.
“The health professional allowance of paramedics and nurses has been increased from Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 per month and the stipend of house officers by 20 per cent, while the trained medical officers have been given over 30 per cent raise,” he said.
The secretary said the nursing students would get Rs31,000 after Rs11,000 stipend raise.
Meanwhile, physicians in Peshawar’s government hospitals told reporters that they wanted risk allowance for being prone to Covid-19 due to the nature of their work.
The doctors said the fourth wave of the virus had badly hit health workers compared with the first three.
They said younger people were killed by Delta and other dangerous strains of coronavirus, which caused high hospitalisation rates.
A report compiled by the World Health Organisation’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sub-office said 4,235 healthcare workers were infected with the virus in the province and 72 per cent of them (3,029) were men.
Of them, 1,986 (47 per cent) were doctors, 1,660 (39 per cent) paramedics and other workers, and 579 (13 per cent) nurses.
They said the medics generally suffered badly due to the inhalation of heavy load of virus as they stayed with infected patients indoors.
The doctors said many of their colleagues had lost life to the deadly disease.
They said health employees also endangered lives of their family members on return from hospitals during the pandemic.
The physicians also complained that health employees suffered due to the unavailability of proper personal protection equipments.
They said over and above health workers, the consultants were working over the weekends in addition to the usual duty due the understaffing of internal medicine and pulmonology departments at the Lady Reading Hospital, which had 200 Covid-19 patients.
The physicians said the MTIs were short of staff as nearly half of employees had been infected.
They said risk allowance would motivate healthcare providers to work with more commitment at a time when hospitalisation rates were increasing.