LAHORE, July 17: The recent posting of ‘junior doctors’ against the top slots in five medical colleges by the Punjab government has again sent a wave of shock among the senior cadre medics, particularly those who are on the verge of retirement, sources told Dawn.
The Punjab government transferred and posted last week principals of five medical colleges, in wake of young doctors’ strike, in blatant violation of its merit policy and seniority list, the sources said.
The ‘combined seniority list of Professors of Health Department’ released on April 9, 2012 clearly shows the merit violation in these appointments. A copy of official list is also available with Dawn.
Prof Mehmood Shaukat of King Edward Medical University (KEMU) was posted as Allama Iqbal Medical College principal vice Prof Dr Javed Akram, Prof Anjum Habib Vohra was posted as Post Graduate Medical Institute (PGMI) head vice Prof Tariq Salahuddin and Prof Dr Fakhar Imam was posted as Fatima Jinnah Medical College principal against a vacant post, AIMC Professor of Anatomy Dr Nosheen was transferred and posted Khwaja Safdar Medical College Sialkot’s principal while Multan’s Nishtar Medical College Professor of Pediatrics Dr Khwaja Haroon Khursheed was transferred and posted as Quaid-i-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur, principal vice Professor of Pediatrics Dr Khalid Abbas Bukhari who was directed to relinquish charge of the post.
Of the professors who are senior to these five newly-appointed principals, six will retire in the ongoing year while 15 others will reach the age of superannuation next year.
The most blatant violation of merit has been witnessed in the posting of AIMC Professor of Anatomy Dr Nosheen Omar who was made Khawaja Safdar Medical College Sialkot Principal, ignoring over 100 senior doctors, the source said. She has 108th position on the seniority list.
This violation of merit has caused frustration among senior doctors of whom some have become vocal against it. A manifestation of this was witnessed at the meeting of AIMC Academic Council on Monday where Principal Prof Mehmood Shaukat had to face criticism from Professor of Orthopedic Surgery Prof Nusrat Javed (who is two steps senior to Prof Shaukat according to the Punjab health department’s seniority list) for holding the top administrative post despite being junior to him, the source said.
According to the combined seniority list, Prof Mehmood stood at 24th position while Prof Nusrat is on 22nd.
Ironically, the source said, Prof Mehmood is known in the medical community for his strong criticism of appointment of juniors as heads of medical institutions.
The scale of the merit violation can be gauged from the fact that four senior medics of premier institution like KEMU, including Professor of Opthalmology Dr Tehseenun Nabi Sahi, Professor of ENT Dr Azhar Hameed, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery Dr Syed Muhammad Awais and Professor of Dermatology Dr Atif Husnain Kazmi, failed to impress the health authorities despite being among the top 10 on the official seniority list.
Prof Mehmood’s predecessor Prof Javed Akram was also too junior for the AIMC top slot as he had 19th position on the seniority list.
The other medics of the AIMC/Jinnah Hospital who are senior to Prof Mehmood include Professor of Psychiatry Dr Saad Bashir Malik and Professor of Ophthalmology Dr Samina Jahangir.
Similarly, Prof Anjum Habib Vohra has 57th position on the seniority list while his predecessor Prof Tariq was at 91st position.
Two teaching cadre doctors of the AIMC -- Professor of Gynae Dr Muhammad Aslam and Professor of Urology Ahmad Salman Waris --- are senior to Mr Vohra as they are holding 49th and 54th positions, respectively, on the official seniority list.
The Punjab government had also bypassed several senior doctors while posting AIMC Professor of Medicine Dr Fakhar Imam as FJMC principal who had 36th position on the seniority list.
Four colleagues of Prof Imam from AIMC, including Professor of Anaesthesia Dr Shahida Khawaja, however, failed to get noticed by the decision makers in the government despite being senior to him.
The same is the case with Prof Khawaja Haroon Khurshid, holding 57th position on the seniority list, who has been posted ignoring dozens of his senior colleagues working in various public sector medical institutions all over the province.
When asked about his stance on the issue, Dr Mahmood said he had not changed his stance and would continue to criticise the merit violation.
“Even when health department called me, I had raised objection to my posting as AIMC principal in the presence of my colleagues who were senior to me”, Dr Mehmood said, adding that he might be the first government official who dared to say this in the face of the appointing authority.
He said that he was told that his posting was made on the basis of seniority-cum-fitness and no other doctors could qualify for the slot under the criteria. “So I accepted this offer”, he added.
Another newly-appointed doctor, Prof Vohara, refused to comment on the issue while Prof Fakhar Imam did not attend his cell phone nor he responded to the text message sent to him in this regard.