Senate panel halts doctor’s appointments in Cardiac Centre

Members seek recommendations for regularising serving staff


Our Correspondent March 14, 2019
Representational image. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Objecting to exams for doctors who had spent over a decade with the centre, a Senate panel on Wednesday halted the appointment of doctors at the cardiac facility in the federal capital’s largest tertiary care hospital and issued summons for the health minister and secretary to appear in the next hearing of the committee to resolve the issue.

Meanwhile, the health ministry and the public service commission was told to prepare recommendations for regularising doctors.

This was directed during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee for Cabinet Secretariat at the Parliament House on Wednesday with Senator Talha Mahmood in the chair.

During the meeting, the committee discussed the issue of regularising doctors at the Cardiac Centre of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims).

The centre’s additional secretary told the committee that construction on the project started in 2004 and was supposed to be completed in 2008. However, it was not completed until 2015, over a decade later.

He added that there were some 60 seats in the centre. On these, some 22 employees — up to basic pay scale (BPS) grade-14, have been regularized while seven have left the centre. Meanwhile, nine cardiac doctors at the centre remain on contract.

Following the Supreme Court’s orders to fill the remaining vacant seats for doctors through the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), seven posts were advertised.

PIMS cardiac centre: Doctors over fret yet another contract extension

Jamiatul-Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Senator Talha Mahmood expressed his displeasure at this, stating that doctors were national heroes, however, this institution was treating them unfairly.

“It would be unjust to demand them to appear in exams after 20 years of service,” Senator Mahmood said, adding that parliamentary committees have on numerous occasions directed to regularise doctors of the centre but the directives were never implemented.

Awami National Party (ANP) Senator Sitara Ayaz commented that only orders of the apex court were followed while recommendations of the committee were ignored.

Cardiac Centre’s Dr Faisal told the committee that the centre was due to be completed in two phases. The Project Concept-I (PC-I) included the acquisition of equipment for the centre and training doctors. Regularisation of doctors was recommended in the second phase of the project along with the training of other staff. Despite the fact that they were appointed in 2004, they have yet to be regularised, he complained.

He added that Pims Executive Director Raja Amjad had raised their voice at every relevant forum, even telling the Supreme Court (SC) that expelling unregularised doctors would be tantamount to closing down the centre.

Dr Faisal said that a summary for their regularisation was sent to the government but only Dr Shahid Nawaz was regularized while the rest were ignored.

“Our contracts were extended but we were never regularised,” he lamented, adding that it was an established practice that staff hired with the project was also regularised with the project.

A nurse from the hospital told the committee that they have not been paid for the past 3.5 years. As a result, they have had to see their children get expelled from schools multiple times because they were unable to pay the fees.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan explained that the bureaucracy has to work within a defined parameter. He added that while discussing such issues, it was better to have the relevant minister in the meeting.

At this, the committee issued summons to the health minister and secretary to appear in the next meeting of the committee.

The committee also halted the process of appointing staff in the cardiac centre.

Further, the committee ordered the FPSC and health ministry to prepare recommendations to regularise the centre’s doctors.

The committee was further told that a summary for regularising some 21 contract employees of Federal General Hospital has been sent to the related forum.

PTDC hotels

The committee also reviewed public complaints relating to the Flashman Hotel in Rawalpindi, particularly by Shehzadi Zainab.

Cabinet Division’s additional secretary told the committee that the hotel was the property of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).

He added that Zainab, who was the mother of Jaam Kamal, had presented a case for identification of privately-owned land.

He said 86.8% of this land belongs to an unregistered company while the remaining 13.2% was privately owned. Of this, six per cent was owned by Qilat family.

Noting that the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) was its regulator, the cabinet division official pointed out that SECP rules stipulate that the only land having a 10% share could be identified.

Further, he said that after the 18th amendment, tourism as a subject had been devolved to the provinces. A task force has now been formed to distribute properties of PTDC amongst the provincial tourism bodies.

He assured that the corporation’s assets will be transferred after the formation of the board. Further, he said that PTDC earns Rs2 million in profit annually and the matter was also pending in court.

The committee’s chairman sought greater details in the matter and adjourned the further hearing on the issue until the next meeting of the committee when it will hear Zainab. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2019.

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