Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) doctors’ demand for higher wages and better perks was refused by the provincial government on Saturday, sources said.
The Provincial Doctors Association (PDA) is demanding an increase in salaries, non-practicing allowance (NPA) for doctors and a service structure for medical professionals.
K-P Health Minister Zahir Ali Shah told reporters that financial constraints present a hurdle in fulfilling the doctors’ demands.
Since Monday, doctors in all tertiary care hospitals of the province including Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH) and Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) in Peshawar and Ayub Teaching Hospital (ATH) Abbottabad are on strike, to push the government to accept their demands.
“The doctors’ demands are beyond our resources and the government cannot match what doctors are demanding,” a furious health minister said.
The PDA was less than impressed by the answer and set Monday as the “final deadline” for the government to accept their demands.
After Monday, the government should brace itself for a complete strike at all public hospitals in K-P, PDA Provincial President Dr Shahsawar Khan told The Express Tribune after the health minister’s statement.
“We are demanding increased salaries, enhanced NPA, service structure for medical professional and accommodation for all doctors working in teaching hospitals,” said Dr Shahsawar. He added, “What is wrong with our demands?”
In Punjab, it took 40 days of continuous strikes for the Young Doctors Association to get the Punjab government to agree to their demands. The K-P government, Dr Shahsawar felt, has learnt nothing from it.
He added, “A lot of poor people suffered because of the late response of Punjab government, why is the K-P government repeating the same episode?”
Poor patients from far-flung parts of the province are suffering in hospitals as most doctors have refused to show up for duty in wards, operation theatres (OT) and outpatients departments (OPD) in all major hospitals in Peshawar for the last six days.
Some patients who needed surgical procedures were shifted to private hospitals but hundreds of poor patients are still waiting for the doctors to call off their strike.
The administration cannot compel doctors to end their strike or attend OPD and OT, a Lady Ready Hospital official said.
The strike will be extended to District Headquarter Hospitals of the province from Monday, and “PDA has asked all doctors to submit their resignations to the provincial president if the government fails to meet the [association’s] demands,” Dr Shahsawar said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2011.
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