LAHORE, Oct 24: The general cadre doctors will be holding a referendum by obtaining signatures of at least 1,000 medical practitioners from Thursday (today) to build a consensus and press for finalisation of their service structure at the earliest.
A decision to the effect was taken by the Punjab Council of General Cadre Doctors Association (GCDA) at a meeting held here on Wednesday.
Presided by GCDA President Dr Masood Akhtar Sheikh, the meeting was told that being largest cadre of doctors working at public sector health facilities all over the province and having a total strength of 14,000, the general cadre doctors were the actual stakeholders and representatives of the medical community.
The meeting also condemned the activities of a group of ‘inexperienced’ doctors who tried to ‘hijack’ the issue of service structure by adopting unhealthy activities and by politicising the departmental issue in some meetings with political parties.
Addressing the meeting, Dr Sheikh said the service structure had attained much importance for the medical community since the government delayed finalisation of its draft despite agreeing to several demands of the doctors in some recent meetings.
He said the ‘thousand signature’ move by the general cadre doctors would help build consensus that the healthcare system without providing service structure would not strengthen.
“The improved service structure with better chance of career progression is the only single remedy for stopping brain drain,” Dr Masood said.
He urged the authorities concerned to consider the proposals and demands of the general cadre doctors submitted to them in recent meetings before finalising the draft of service structure for all cadres of doctors. Dr Masood hailed the services of the PML-N government to improve the healthcare system and sought intervention of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif regarding inordinate delay in finalising the draft for service structure.
He said from 1995 to 2009 doctors were not recruited through Punjab Public Service Commission and were forced to work in grade-17 for over 16-20 years, that resulted in frustration among the professionals. “Similarly a deadlock at the level of grade-19 needs to be addressed.”
The provincial council of the GCDA endorsed the suggestions presented in the 18-member committee constituted to review the service structure which said the length of service would be considered for promotion, and those with a length of 5 years, 12 years and 16 years would be promoted to grade 18, 19 and 20, respectively.
It said the GCDA did not demand grade-20 for all doctors with 16-year service, but at least they should be promoted to grade-19. The provincial council meeting said a few steps might be adopted to achieve the objective.
(1) There may be upgradation of the seat of grade-18 officer to grade-19 till such time that a clear-cut vacancy is available to them, at that time their seat may be reverted to grade-18.
(2) There may be one-time dispensation for promotion of all currently working grade-18 officers to grade-19.
(3) or the formula for promotion may be made more cylindrical with more room for the doctors at grade 19 and 20.
GCDA Secretary-General Dr Rana Rafiq, Dr Asad Abbas Shah and Dr Asim Farooqui also spoke on the occasion while members of the provincial councils of the association Dr Shaukat, Dr Aslam Hameed, Dr Farooq, Dr Shahid along with representatives from districts attended the meeting.