Doctors and paramedics in Sindh's government hospitals on Wednesday ended their three-day strike, which caused great suffering to needy patients across the province, after successful negotiations with the Sindh government regarding their salaries and perks.
Addressing a press conference in the Sindh Assembly committee room in the evening, Sindh chief minister's adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab said talks with the protesting doctors had been successful and all outpatient departments (OPD) throughout the province will be open as of 6pm today.
Doctors in government hospitals across Sindh had been protesting since Monday to pressurise the provincial government to meet their demands of an increase in salaries, allowances and health insurance to match those offered to government medics in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
In wake of the negotiations, Wahab announced that doctors in Sindh would be given salaries equivalent to those of doctors in Punjab. He said the demands of the protesting doctors would be acted upon within a week.
Dr Pir Manzoor Ali and Dr Ahmed Sultan represented the Young Doctors Association (YDA) at the news conference today which was also attended by Sindh Health Secretary Saeed Ahmed Awan.
Dr Ali said they had demanded that their allowances be raised to match those provided in other provinces. He said the Sindh government had recognised their demands as a result of which they were ending their protest. However, he said work would begin in all OPDs from tomorrow.
"Patients are suffering because of the doctors' strike," Wahab remarked, adding that everyone needed to understand that patients shouldn't be troubled.
He said providing health facilities was the top priority of the Sindh government.
In response to a question, the adviser said health professionals come under 'essential services' and the provincial government has discussed devising a mechanism to avoid strikes in the future with the doctors' representatives.
He said doctors have voluntarily agreed to serve 14 hours instead of 12 which was a commendable gesture.
Thousands of patients had faced hardship and mental agony due to the three-day shutdown of OPDs at public sector hospitals in the province by protesting doctors.
At least 50 major and minor surgeries were cancelled at the Dadu Civil Hospital and according to reports, a cardiac patient died in the Civil Hospital of Jacobabad as doctors were not present in the OPD due to the protest.
Following the press conference, the YDA secretary general termed the meeting with the Sindh health minister to be successful. He said the minister had agreed to accept their demand for salaries at par with those of doctors in Punjab.
Talking to DawnNewsTV, he said although the boycott would not take place tomorrow, doctors would wear black ribbons on their arms as a symbol of protest for a week until the notification for changes in their incomes was issued.
He said that in a detailed discussion, the salary of House Officers (HO) in Punjab was found to be Rs45,000 while that of postgraduates (PG) R1 was Rs75,000 and PG R5 Rs90,000. The salary of Medical Officers (MO) in Punjab was around Rs120,000, he claimed.
He said while the health minister had agreed to accept the demand of salaries being raised to match those in Punjab, the issue of a yearly increment in the pay of PGs was not agreed to. The minister said that the salary will be equal to that of Punjab doctors at the pay level of PG R1.
The pay of HOs and MOs will also be raised to equal that of their counterparts in Punjab, he revealed, adding that they expected a notification in this regard by tonight.