Young Doctors Association calls off strike after 15-day standoff

Published August 15, 2017
LAHORE: Police officials use a water cannon in an effort to stop protesting doctors from entering the red zone on August 1.— PPI/File
LAHORE: Police officials use a water cannon in an effort to stop protesting doctors from entering the red zone on August 1.— PPI/File

The Young Doctors Association (YDA) leadership called off their 15-day-long strike in the public sector hospitals of Punjab on Tuesday after negotiations with the provincial health department "concluded in success".

"Negotiations with the health department turned out to be fruitful," said a YDA spokesperson, adding that the association's activists would resume duties in the indoor and outdoor departments of all public hospitals.

The YDA had called the strike at the start of August after an official committee, comprising three senior teachers, rejected its demands to increase salaries and address other grievances. The medical staff denied treatment to patients in outpatient and inpatient departments for the past 15 days, forcing hospital administrations to hire the services of new doctors.

On Sunday, the association had threatened to stop work at the emergency departments of all the public hospitals from Tuesday (today) if the government did not take any step to accept its demands.

However, the Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education (SHME) department during the negotiations agreed to accept YDA's demands, albeit with certain conditions.

According to the YDA spokesperson, the health department has assured the YDA that it would review the central induction policy, under which the induction of postgraduate trainees is made through a merit determination formula instead of interviews. However, it rejected the YDA's demand to do away with the policy.

As part of the disciplinary action against the protesting doctors, the services of 41 house officers, 11 medical officers and 12 postgraduate trainee doctors were terminated while services of two postgraduate trainees were repatriated to the SHME department.

It was decided during the negotiations, which lasted until Tuesday early morning, that the decision to reinstate the sacked doctors would be taken by academic councils, said health department spokesperson Ikhlaq Ali Khan.

He said that the restoration of doctors who have been transferred would be considered if they submit, in writing, that they will not resort to denying patients treatment in the future and will take their grievances to the health department instead.

The vice-chancellors and principals of medical institutions, and medical superintendents of teaching hospitals in the public sector from all over the province had demanded that there should be a ban on bodies like the YDA. The Pakistan Medical Association, the apex professional body of doctors, had also condemned closure of emergency departments.

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