LAHORE: Normality started returning to government hospitals in Punjab on Monday after temporarily arranged army doctors and other medics took over outpatient and emergency departments.
About 150 army doctors treated patients at the OPDs which had remained closed for 13 days because of a strike by young doctors.
Punjab police also sent some officials holding medical degrees to some teaching hospitals in Lahore.
Deputy Inspector General of Elite Force Dr Mirza Shakeel, who is a graduate from the King Edward Medical University, attended to patients at the Mayo Hospital OPD.
Meanwhile, Gawalmandi police registered a murder case against eight doctors of Mayo Hospital following the death of a one-and-a-half years old child.
The boy’s father, Muhammad Afzal, alleged in the FIR that doctors had removed the drip being administered to Fahad in the emergency department soon after they heard about arrest of their colleagues during a police action in the Services Hospital.
Another patient, Naseer Wali of Gujranwala, died in same department early on Monday morning, but Mayo Hospital’s MS Dr Zahid Pervez said the patient had received treatment.
The district coordination officer (DCO) of Lahore said 33 doctors had been taken into protective custody and sent to jail.
The health authorities provided around 600 doctors to major state-run hospitals after the striking doctors refused to resume work.
The army doctors and medics worked under heavy police security.
The emergency wards which had been abandoned by the young doctors shortly after the arrest of their colleagues, particularly office-bearers of the Young Doctors’ Association, late on Sunday night were manned by doctors from the office of the director general (health), Social Security Hospitals, district and tehsil headquarters hospitals and senior, ad hoc and contract doctors.
In the provincial capital, 57 doctors were sent to Mayo Hospital, 90 to Services Hospital, 50 to Jinnah Hospital, 27 to Lahore General Hospital, 40 to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and 19 to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.
Meanwhile, the provincial chapters of the Medical Teachers’ Association and the Pakistan Medical Association demanded early release of the arrested doctors.
At a meeting held between a delegation of the MTA and government representatives at the Allama Iqbal Medical College, senior doctors expressed their inability to provide round the clock treatment.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah, Chief Minister’s Special Assistant on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique and Health Secretary Arif Nadeem represented the government.
MTA’s representatives, led by the association’s general secretary, said the tug of war between the government and young doctors and the arrests had created panic in the medical community.
A three-member committee was constituted to mediate between the government and the YDA on the issues of the arrests, strike and service structure.
Addressing a press conference along with representatives of paramedics, PMA general secretary Dr Abrar Ashraf announced tow-hour agitation daily from Tuesday till the release of the arrested doctors.
He termed the police crackdown on doctors the worst example of ‘terrorism’. He said the doctors would lodge cases against the senior officers involved in the incident, including the Lahore police chief.
“Black flags will be hoisted on public sector hospitals in protest against the police crackdown on doctors,” he said.
The PMA leaser said deployment of army doctors in the ‘civil’ hospitals was also a condemnable act.