The faculty of doctors at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), the largest teaching hospital in the country, have had their promotions withheld for the past 10 years.
In the absence of promotions to the next grade, doctors working on BS-Grade 18 and 19 have been given acting charge on their own pay scale (OPS) basis in several units of the hospital. Some such doctors serve as ad hoc heads for different medical faculties.
Informed sources claim at least 61 medical officers of the hospital await promotions to the next grade as assistant and associate professors. Many of them have also completed post-graduation degrees such as FCPS and yet remain unacknowledged.
At present, 30 posts of Grade-18 assistant professors, seven of Grade-19 associate professors and several posts of Grade-20 professors are reportedly lying vacant at the JPMC. The shortage of faculty for undergraduate, postgraduate and training programmes has also affected education at the facility.
Sources claim that the long-standing tussle between the federal and Sindh government over who takes administrative control over the city’s largest public hospital is part of the problem.
The administrative control of JPMC was transferred from the federal government to the Sindh government in June 2011 after the passage of the 18th Amendment. The hospital employees had appealed the decision at the Supreme Court (SC) against this decision and till July 2016 a stay was in place on the directives of the Sindh High Court (SHC).
Then in 2016 the SHC ruled that the administrative control of three hospitals - JPMC, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and the National Institute of Child Health - be handed over to the federal government but in appeal before the apex court, the Sindh government challenged this decision.
The top court granted a stay on the implementation of SHC’s decision and that was in place for another two and a half years.
Then in January 2019, a five-member bench of the apex court upheld the SHC’s decision and directed the Sindh government to return the three hospitals to federal control within 90 days. However, even after two and a half years of this decision, the management of the three hospitals remains with the Sindh government. Thus, despite the passage of 10 years - 2011 to 2021 - the administrative matters of the three hospitals are yet to be properly regulated.
Caught in the mix
During these 10 years, hundreds of employees have retired in all the three hospitals and their posts have been left vacant.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, a member of the JPMC doctors’ association said that specialists from JPMC’s teaching faculty have not been promoted to the next BS-Grade for over a decade now. “Doctors were last promoted in 2010, when the hospital was still under federal jurisdiction,” he lamented.
According to him, as a consequence of the administrative tug between the two governments, doctors working for the public health facility have faced immense anxiety. “The doctors’ association urges the Sindh government to immediately fill the vacancies of associate professors and assistant professors by giving promotions to the doctors of the teaching faculty,” he said on behalf of his colleagues.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2021.
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