RAWALPINDI: Misery writ large on the face of Ghulam Abbas, standing near the stairs of the outdoor patient department (OPD) at the District Headquarters Hospital, as there was no doctor to check his son with a broken leg.
The boy got his leg fractured two months back and after putting the plaster on it the doctors had advised Mr Abbas to bring him back for re-examination. He said for the last two days his son had been complaining of pain.
The father of three daughters and the son lives in Dhala village near Adiala with his family. He said he borrowed money from his friends to bring his son on a hired vehicle as it was not possible for him to travel on public transport.
He said he was working in a private organisation and could not frequently get leaves.
“If the provincial government is unable to run the hospitals it should close them because it seems giving some relief to the poverty-stricken people is not the priority of the government,” he said.
Mr Abbas is among thousands of patients who daily visit the three government hospitals to get free treatment. However, the prolonged strike by doctors has created another problem for them.
Mostly patients prefer to go to private clinics but a large number of people cannot afford the private hospitals’ expenditures. The government spent millions of rupees on providing facilities to the patients but due to the frequent strikes by young doctors these too have become useless.
“We are working to provide treatment to the patients at the emergency departments of the allied hospitals,” said Rawalpindi Medical College Principal Dr Mussadiq Khan while talking to Dawn.
He said he had visited the hospitals to check availability of doctors at emergency departments and found that doctors were treating the patients. He admitted that patients suffered due to the strike, adding the administration would have to follow the instructions of the authorities concerned and wait for the outcome of the talks between the doctors and the government.
Officials in the three hospitals said the health services were partially affected due to the strike.
They said senior doctors were working extra to provide treatment to the patients in wards, ICUs and emergency departments.
Young Doctors Association Punjab chapter chairman Dr Mohammad Haroon said they were aware of the problems being faced by the patients but they had no other option to press the government. He said the strike would continue till the government accepted their demands. He said needed service was being provided to the patients at the emergency department and the intensive care units.
“We have already withdrawn our major demands, including provision of vehicles and allowances to the doctors, but the government is still not accepting the remaining 10 per cent demands,” he said.
“Now we just want induction of doctors in Basic Pay Scale (BPS) 18 and promote all the doctors in next grade during the next fiscal year.”
Dr Haroon lashed out at the provincial health secretary for what he said misguiding the government. He demanded that the chief minister should meet the representatives of young doctors and listen to their problems.
“We are ready to invite the chief minister as the chief guest in the June 28 all Punjab doctors’ convention at Rawalpindi Medical College,” he said.