The Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) Punjab on Friday said it would re-launch its protest from May 9 as the government had not come up with a suitable service structure for doctors. Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique said the YDA’s decision was unjustified and hasty. He said a summary on service structure had been forwarded by the Health Department to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat and the YDA leaders were aware of this.
Rafique added that he had waited for the YDA on Friday to approach him but no one had. “I wonder why they take such extreme positions which ultimately affect the patient. They know that the summary has been forwarded.” He said finalising a service structure was not child’s play and needed time. “There was an understanding between the government and the YDA that work on the service structure could take longer than a month. Announcing a protest was not right.”
In a press conference at Services Hospital on Friday, the YDA said it would start it protest from May 9 (Wednesday) if the government had not done anything until then. “We ended our strike on April 19 when Law Minister Rana Sanaullah announced that a committee would submit its report within 30 days on a new service structure. So far nothing has been done in this regard,” YDA spokesman Dr Nasir Bokhari and YDA President Dr Hamid Butt said
“We trusted the government and called off our strike. Now we are starting again. In the first phase, YDA will block Jail Road in front of Services Hospital and the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) from 11am to 1pm. YDA chapters in other cities will also block roads and hold protest demonstration on the same day.”
Speaking with The Express Tribune, Dr Bokhari endorsed the Health Professional Scales (HPS) submitted by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) in the Supreme Court. The PMA proposal demands separate pay-scales. Medical staff that are not doctors are placed in HPS 1 to HPS 9, while doctors are placed in HPS-9 to HPS-13.
Dr Bokhari added, “Going on a strike again was the last resort for us. If the government doesn’t start working on the service structure we will certainly strike again. And this time, the strike will continue indefinitely. It may take a week, a year or a decade … but by then doctors will not work.”
YDA President Dr Hamid Butt said a new service structure was a long standing demand of the medical community. He said transfers and postings were a relatively small issue.
The Outpatient Departments (OPD) across Punjab remained closed for a week in April after the Punjab government transferred some 450 doctors. Initially, YDA Punjab had only demanded cancellation of the transfers. Later they had added a new service structure to their list of demands.
YDA Pakistan President Dr Rana Sohial said, “We will announce a strategy soon. We support a new service structure”.
PMA General Secretary Dr Izhar Chaudhary said it was good that YDA had endorsed PMA’s proposal on a service structure, adding that the government should take all stakeholders on board before finalising any service structure.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.