Left for dead: Patient dies at Services Hospital as strike continues

Family claims patient was brought to emergency ward but no doctor raised a finger

Our Correspondent February 23, 2017

LAHORE: Overcome with grief and rage, relatives of a deceased patient laid out the body of their loved one and protested against the “brutality” of doctors at the Services Hospital.

Since Monday night, medics have been on strike after anti-corruption authorities tried to arrest Young Doctors Association (YDA) Vice President Dr Atif.

Muhammad Hussain was brought to the hospital in critical condition and died as he was not put on a ventilator, said his son as he spoke to the media at the medical facility. The son said his family resided in the Ghaziabad area where his father started suffering from chest pain. The man claimed when he reached the Services Hospital, doctors refused to raise a finger for the patient and his father died on a bed of the emergency ward. “This happened because of the doctors. We must register a case against them” he announced.

Province-wide strike: YDA doctors boycott OPDs in Pindi

The YDA boycott continued for a second consecutive day at Lahore hospitals. The medics boycotted all OPDs and forced the closure of all functions at the Services Hospital, including the emergency ward. Their action resulted in the suffering of thousands who come to the government hospital from across Punjab.

Talking to the media, YDA representatives, including Dr Hamid Butt and others, announced they would continue the strike until a case was registered against the anti-corruption department for maligning noble medical practitioners.

“Health Secretary Najam Shah must also offer his resignation, otherwise doctors will not allow the Services Hospital to resume its activity,” he further stated. However, late on Wednesday night, the doctors announced emergency services would resume at Services Hospital, while OPDs would remain closed.

The incident occurred on Monday night when the anti-corruption department raided the Services Hospital to arrest Dr Atif, who was allegedly involved in corruption worth millions of rupees.

However, his peers offered serious resistance to the arrest. They even damaged vehicles of the authorities, who had to leave the medical facility without completing the arrest.

Following the incident, large numbers of doctors gathered outside the emergency ward and started chanting slogans against the health and anti-corruption departments. They also forcibly shut down the emergency ward on Monday night. Later, the medics issued a call for a province-wide shut down of OPDs at all hospitals and a complete strike at the Services Hospital, including the emergency ward.

Extreme action: Junior doctors force hospital shutdown after raid

Meanwhile, the health department requested doctors to open the emergency ward in the larger interest of the public.

On Tuesday, the few police personnel along and security guards deployed at the main gate of the Services Hospital said patients entered the premises only to find that the facilities were closed.

The slip counter, which usually sees a large number of people waiting in line, was taken over by doctors who placed their notebooks to cover it up. The emergency ward, which deals with 400 patients at a time, was also completely empty.

A time of unrest

Meanwhile, a group of nurses at the Sheikh Zayed Hospital also protested against the hospital administration. They accused a doctor of slapping a nurse over a petty issue. They warned that not a single one of them would return to their jobs unless the doctor who was involved. However, after about half an hour, they returned to duties.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2017.