Service structure: YDA meets Wednesday to discuss protest plan

General Council to consider plan to surround Chief Minister’s Secretariat.


Ali Usman August 26, 2012

LAHORE:


The Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab has called a General Council meeting on Wednesday to discuss its strategy for negotiations with the government over changes to the service structure for doctors employed by the Health Department.


YDA members said that the General Council, which would meet at Shaikh Zayed Hospital, would consider all options including going on strike again. The YDA went on strike at outpatient departments earlier this year to press for better perks and allowances as part of their service structure, paralysing public hospitals in the city for around a month. The YDA called off the strike on the instructions of the Lahore High Court, which set up a committee to come up with recommendations for the service structure revisions.

YDA member Dr Abu Bakar Gondal told The Express Tribune that there was deadlock in the committee and the negotiations had come to a halt. “Earlier, there was deadlock on two issues: induction of doctors into BS-18 and the Health Professional Allowance (HPA). Since then the government has done a lot of things that we don’t agree with and which have forced us to review our strategy and consider our options. This is why General Council meeting has been called for which doctors from across the Punjab will come to Lahore,” he said.

“The community is very angry with the government. On the one hand they hold negotiations with us while on the other hand they hire ad hoc doctors in violation of all rules and regulations. This is no way to go about negotiations,” he said.

Dr Gondal said that one option to be considered at the meeting was for doctors to stage a demonstration at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

Dr Khuzema Arslan Bokhari, another senior YDA member, said that he believed that the Genera Council would not call a strike, but plan a schedule of protests. He said that the YDA was concerned at the appointment of women medical officers (WMOs) to seats meant for post-graduate trainees.

“WMOs hired on an ad hoc basis are being appointed to post-graduate seats and new post-graduates are being inducted without stipends. And post-graduate trainees who were inducted by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) after due process are being sidelined for ad hoc doctors who didn’t appear before any board and were hired after walk-in interviews,” said Dr Bokhari.

He said that the ad hoc doctors were getting favourable postings within Lahore while post-graduate trainees were being sent outside the city. “These issues have caused a wave of unrest among doctors. We will discuss these matters at the General Council meeting,” he said. Another YDA member said that 373 women medical officers had been sent on deputation from one teaching hospital to another within Lahore, which was against the rules.

“They are also withdrawing a 20 per cent deputation allowance which isn’t mentioned in their salaries. We are planning to move court against this. This is a severe violation of the appointment rules,” he said.

A senior Health Department official said that Senator Ishaq Dar of the PML-N was to meet with YDA members soon. He said that the senator was currently abroad. He rejected the YDA allegations about ad hoc doctors. “They were appointed after due process and they are government employees. The young doctors should focus on their own issues rather than speaking about ad hoc doctors,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2012.

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