Sitting outside the Polyclinic hospital, Razia Bibi watched the commotion as doctors and medical staff protested against the newly-proposed service structure on Monday.
The services at all the outpatient departments (OPDs) and elective operation theaters (OTs) of the hospital were suspended for an indefinite time period.
Razia, who had come all the way from Murree, balanced X-rays, medical reports and a three-month-old baby in her hands. She had brought her mother-in-law, who complained of acute stomach disorder and was under treatment at the hospital.
“What is going on here? Why are they not tending to my mother-in-law,” she asked the people standing there, but could not get a satisfactory reply. She had commuted from a remote area in the suburbs of Murree and only knew Pashto language.
This was her first ever trip anywhere without a male family member.
“I tried to take her inside the hospital building but was told that no doctor is available,” she said. Not too familiar with the city and hard-pressed on money, she didn’t seem to have much option but hope.
Another family from Azad Jummu and Kashmir expressed disappointment at the doctors’ indifference.
“We are really sick and tired of these strikes in hospitals. It appears as if all these doctors are concerned about is earning money rather than saving lives,” said Shahid Hussain, had who brought his father, a heart patient for a follow-up examination. Hussain wanted to consult the doctor about the continuity of his father’s medicine.
“Now where should I take my father”, he said, gesturing towards the green belt where his father rested under a tree. “His condition is not good,” he said.
Meanwhile, doctors, paramedic and nurses were found busy chanting slogans, “New proposed service structure unacceptable”, ignoring the plight of patients and their attendants, who were sitting outside the hospital. Talking to The Express Tribune, President Young Doctors Association (YDA) Polyclinic Hospital Dr Muhammad Ajmal and Chairperson YDA National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine Yousuf Ali Khan said
five federal hospitals observed the strike and will continue until they get a satisfactory response from the Ministry of Health regarding the flaws in the new service structure.
They said they had requested the ministry to amend the service structures the day they were announced, but no step had been taken in this regard, which forced them to go on complete strike again.
However, no strike was observed in Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. Dr Muhammad Ajmal said the current strike has nothing to do with YDA Islamabad chapter and people who were doing it had political motives.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2011.