The doctors recently recruited by the Punjab government, during the strike by the Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) Punjab, say they have no plans of going to court even if their appointments are set aside by the high court.
YDA members, Dr Abu Bakar Gondal and others, have filed a petition in the Lahore High Court challenging the appointment of 500 adhoc doctors by the Punjab government. The petitioners have asked the court to set aside the appointments, which they said were made without due process. On July 30, the high court gave the government two weeks to reply.
The Express Tribune spoke to several new recruits who said that they had no plans of challenging the court decision, even if it is not in their favour. A woman doctor at the Children’s Hospital, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Tribune that the doctors were hired “through due process”. About 70 to 80 per cent of the adhoc appointments are female doctors, she said. “We cannot take to the streets or form a YDA-like association,” she said.
Dr Gondal, however, insisted that the hiring had violated merit and rules. He told The Tribune, “They have been appointed to teaching hospitals where there were no vacancies. For example, to Jinnah Hospital, 70 adhoc doctors have been appointed.” He said he would accept the court’s verdict, whatever it was.
Many of the newly appointed doctors have complained of a “social boycott” by their seniors. Some of them spoke with The Tribune on condition of anonymity. The YDA did not deny the allegations.
Dr Khuzema Arslan Bokhari, a senior YDA member, said that the doctors who had been on strike had decided to socially boycott the new recruits. Bokhari said that the YDA members did not “misbehave” with the new doctors but ignored them.
A fresh recruit told The Tribune that some of the colleagues referred to them as the ‘PCO – Provisional Constitutional Ordinance – doctors’. He said that they were “discriminated against and humiliated”. “The doctors haven’t accepted us. If they are talking and one of enters the room, they go silent,” he said. He also complained that the YDA members did not guide the new doctors in performance of their duties.
Another remarked that they had done no wrong. “We just joined the service when patients were dying and needed us,” he said.
Captain (retired) Arif Nadeem, the health secretary, said, “We have directed the medical superintendents to provide a ‘good working environment’ to doctors.” Nadeem said the new recruits had been hired by the government and would continue to work until the government decided otherwise.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2012.