In a bid to show solidarity with the protesting health employees, representatives of political parties thronged Lady Reading Hospital and held demonstrations against the K-P government on Wednesday. LRH fired four more employees for boycotting work for another day in protest against health sector reforms.
LRH officials told The Express Tribune patients continued to receive treatment as some doctors attended the OPD. Provincial Doctors Association, Insaf Doctors Forum and Malgari Doctoran had earlier announced they were not going to protest and continued to provide services at their respective health facilities.
PML-N, ANP in solidarity
Leaders of Awami National Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz joined protesting health workers at LRH. The protesters shouted slogans and slated PTI Chairman Imran Khan, health officials and the hospital’s board of governors.
“Imran Khan has unlawfully issued directives to the provincial government and should concentrate on running his party, not the provincial government,” ANP Central General Secretary Mian Iftikhar Hussain said while speaking to the protesting health employees. He questioned why Imran was “using the powers of the chief minister”.
Mian Iftikhar stated the provincial government should not compel political parties and social activists to protest. He added authorities should consider the demands of the protesting health employees.
Mian Iftikhar also questioned the implementation of the Essential Services Act (ESA) 1958, saying the act had not been promulgated even during military rule. He said the reforms were in fact a conspiracy and his party will support the protesting employees.
PML-N MPA Sobia Khan joined the health employees at a sit-in outside the administration block and said Imran’s policies were dubious since he favoured the ESA in hospitals but criticised its implementation for the Pakistan International Airlines protests.
She added, “When the federal government considered privatising PIA, the PTI chief protested but he himself is privatising hospitals in K-P.”
LRH Medical Director Dr Hamid Saeedul Haq held a news conference at LRH where he questioned why parties’ representatives were at the health facility.
“Political parties are in fact adding to the miseries of patients,” Haq said.
He added the hospital administration wanted a peaceful solution and requested political parties to not support the health employees since their support would prolong the strike and negotiations will not materialise. “We want to talk to [the dissenting doctors], to negotiate with them on issues,” Haq stated, adding all the points could be negotiated.
LRH Medical Director Dr Amir Ghaffur told journalists around 3,000 patients were examined at the out-patient department. Of them, over 150 were treated by him. “All went well today as we did not face any problem in providing facilities to patients,” he added.
He said there were different procedures for taking action against the agitating health employees.
On February 9, LRH fired 16 of its employees, saying they violated ESA. According to officials, employees were sacked as they participated and provoked others to go on strike at the facility even though ESA was invoked on February 8 by the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2016.
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