RAWALPINDI, July 5: Contrary to the official announcement in Lahore overnight that the Young Doctors’ Association (YDA) has called off its strike, no striking doctor resumed work in the three Punjab government-run hospitals in Rawalpindi on Thursday.

Senior doctors had to attend to the serious cases among the sick who visited the Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Holy Family Hospital and the District Headquarters Hospital during the day, while the 50 newly recruited doctors looked after the indoor patients.

YDA Punjab Chairman Dr. Mohammad Haroon has announced that “if the government released the four doctors held in Lahore and quashed the FIRs registered against them”, the striking doctors will join their duties “at the emergency departments of the three hospitals from Friday”.

But they will return to outpatients departments only after the Punjab government has notified the service structure demanded by YDA, he added.

In the meantime, the Punjab government, which has released 18 of the 22 striking doctors arrested in a crackdown in Lahore on July 1, has written to the Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) administration to report it the doctors who continue staying away from their duties.

RMC Principal Prof. Dr. Mussadiq Khan told Dawn that the allied hospitals would be acting as directed.

He said he had contacted the striking doctors but they linked their return to work with the revoking of FIRs registered against their colleagues. “Until they rejoin their duties, the hospital wards are being run by newly appointed doctors, under the supervision of senior doctors,” he said. The Punjab government has sent 130 women medical officers to cope with the situation.

Half of them joined duty on Thursday.

Fifty new male doctors also have been recruited and 40 of them have started working in the strike-hit hospitals.

Dr. Haroon told Dawn that YDA had dropped its demand for allowances “for the sake of ailing people”. Three other demands accepted by the Punjab government include incentives of rural doctors, annual increment of postgraduate trainees and promotion in line with medical officers.

YDA leaders were negotiating induction of doctors in Basic Pay Scale (BPS-18), he said, sounding confident that the provincial government would accept the demands.

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