The Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab has announced it will stage a sit-in in front of public hospitals across the province on September 5 to demand that the Punjab government formulate a new service structure.
The association plans on surrounding important government places including the Chief Minister’s Secretariat and GOR-I at a later stage, if their demands are not met, YDA office bearers said after its general council met at Shaikh Zayed Hospital on Wednesday.
The YDA Punjab demanded that the government withdraw a murder case registered against four doctors of Mayo Hospital. “We will suspend negotiations with the government if the case isn’t withdrawn,” they warned. The government, they said, was pressuring police to not complete its investigation.
YDA office bearers said the government had not finalised recommendations for a new service structure, which was causing unrest among the doctors. Induction in grade 18, time scale promotions, and transfers of PGs were issues which still need to be sorted out, they said.
The association said the September 5 protest would be peaceful. There might be a traffic jam outside the hospitals but doctors won’t refuse treatment to patients. YDA members said that only off-duty doctors would take part in the protest. YDA leaders at every hospital will decide on a time for the protest.
YDA President Dr Hamid Butt, Chairman Dr Haroon and district presidents were present at the meeting.
Protesting against the government for not keeping its promises about formulating a new service structure, the YDA had started its strike on June 18. The Punjab government had then hired new doctors and had requested the Pakistan Army to send 150 doctors. The association called it off on July 8 after the Lahore High Court ordered that the doctors resume their duties.
“The Punjab government has disturbed the whole healthcare system of the province,” said Dr Asadullah Khan, the president of Rawalpindi periphery doctors. He said in the previous government’s tenure the salaries of doctors serving in remote and rural areas had been twice those of what doctors serving in urban areas were making. Khan said that the PML-N government had brought down the gap to Rs1,000. “The result is that no doctor is ready to work in remote areas,” said Khan. He demanded that the government either give additional perks to doctors working in remote areas or make it compulsory for doctors to serve in remote areas.
Dr Khuzema Arslan Bokhari, a YDA member, said the government should not allow the ad hoc doctors, it had hired during the YDA’s strike, to continue working. They were hired in violation of merit and rules, he said. Bokhari demanded that the government form a uniform policy for recruiting doctors.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2012.