Duty first?: Doctors reportedly missing in action as Iftar draws near

Patients at three biggest hospitals of Peshawar complain of long periods when staff is not available.

Asad Zia July 23, 2014


Residents of the city have complained that doctors are present but not available at three tertiary care hospitals during Iftar timings. This charge has, however, been denied by hospital management who insist that staff is available in the emergency departments.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Irshad Ali, a resident of Ring Road, said on Tuesday evening his brother and cousin were critically injured in a motorcycle accident. When they reached the emergency ward at Lady Reading Hospital, Ali claimed not a single doctor or nurse was available.

“The patients were lying there for one hour and nobody was there to tend to them,” said Ali. “After I shouted and fought with the staff, a doctor finally came to check up on them.”

He said there were many other patients at the emergency department, waiting on doctors. A resident of Hayatabad, Mansoor Ahmad, complained of similar treatment at Hayatabad Medical Complex.  After visiting twice after Iftar time, Ahmad said his daughter’s condition was deteriorating and no doctors were present till late night.

He demanded Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Health Shahram Khan Tarakai visit the hospital and take action against the absent staff.

However, authorities at Hayatabad Medical Complex dismissed these allegations and claimed that doctors and nursing staff were available at the emergency department 24 hours a day.

“Just last night 400 patients came to the hospital at and after Iftar time,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr Habib Khan. “There were two doctors and nurses available to tend to them.”

Habib added that comment boxes have been installed in front of every ward, where anyone can submit their complaints against staff. He said the deputy medical superintendent is personally responsible for checking these boxes daily and taking action on each complaint.

Khyber Teaching Hospital Public Relations Officer Farhad Khan said no such complaint has yet been received from patients about a lack of doctors in the emergency department. He added that although the number of patients has increased in Ramazan during the evenings, doctors and other staff were always present.

An official requesting anonymity at Lady Reading Hospital agreed that doctors were absent from duty an hour before and after Iftar time. He added that at times the nurses were available instead, and provided treatment in place of the doctors.

However, Lady Reading spokesperson Syed Jamil Shah said the hospital was the biggest in the province and caters to the needs of patients from far and wide 24 hours a day. Shah said 600 to 700 patients visit the hospital in the evenings alone, and all of them were attended to by their staff.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.