The Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab has expressed regret at the violence at Gujranwala District Headquarters Hospital last week and pledged to punish any of its members who were involved, while also announcing protests at the “punitive” transfers of several doctors.
Addressing a press conference at Allama Iqbal Medical College, YDA Punjab spokesman Dr Nasir Bokhari said that the association condemned the treatment of the Gujranwala DHQ medical superintendent last Wednesday, when he was roughed up and had his office vandalised by protesting doctors. He said that an inquiry should be conducted into the incident.
Dr Bokhari said that the association had formed a three-member committee – consisting of Dr Amir Bandesha, Dr Javaid Aheer and Dr Shabbir Warraich to conduct its own inquiry. “If YDA members are found guilty, we will not only take action against them but also tender a formal apology to the medical superintendent,” he said.
However, he added that doctors had also been manhandled and mistreated in Gujranwala but the police were refusing to register an FIR in this regard. He said the YDA members were being treated unfairly.
Earlier, YDA officials had refused to accept any blame for the incident, insisting that the doctors were provoked by the medical superintendent. They had gone on strike on Wednesday night, demanding the release of a dozen doctors arrested after the incident and the dismissal of the health secretary. After widespread condemnation from other medical associations, government and opposition politicians and the media, the doctors called off their strike on Friday night.
The Health Department, meanwhile, sacked two doctors, suspended six and issued show cause notices to five doctors for alleged involvement in the violence in Gujranwala. It also took action against several doctors for participating in the strike.
YDA Punjab Media Secretary Dr Mudassir Razzaq Khan said at least 31 doctors at Jinnah Hospital had been transferred or suspended for being absent on the strike day. He said that the doctors had gone back to work after one day.
Dr Bokhari said that the government had agreed in its service structure deal with the YDA in November 2012 that it would form a transfer policy for doctors within eight weeks, but this had not been done. He said that the government was victimising the doctors by transferring them out of Lahore.
He said that to protest the mistreatment of doctors in Gujranwala and the punitive transfers, the YDA Punjab would stage protests at all teaching hospitals in the province on January 10. It would plan a further strategy of protests on January 13, he added.
Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Health Khawaja Salman Rafique said that the Health Department would act against the doctors who had participated in the strike as they had violated the Essential Services Act. The YDA Punjab, after many weeks of protests and strikes earlier this year, had agreed as part of the service structure deal that the doctors would never boycott their duties again, he said.
“But they went on strike again,” he added. “All segments of society are against the doctors’ threat to boycott hospitals on every issue.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2013.