ISLAMABAD: After suspension of three employees, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) staff on Thursday not only threatened to close the outpatient department (OPD) permanently but also refused to hold talks with Minister for National Health Services (NHS) Aamer Mehmood Kiani.
Earlier, the OPD was being closed for two hours as a protest by the employees but from Friday it would remain shut for the whole six working hours. Over 10,000 patients daily visit the OPD.
“We have been interacting with a government that is threatening us and at the same time asking us to start work. Three employees have been suspended and show-cause notices issued to them just because they spoke in front of the health minister. We will not tolerate this arm twisting and can intensify our protest,” spokesperson for All Employees Pims Restoration Movement Dr Asfandyar Khan told Dawn.
The government has been considering running the hospital through a board of governors (BOG). The board will have representation from parliament, health and financial experts. It will appoint a chief operational officer who can be from outside to run the hospital.
Decision taken after three of protesting employees suspended by hospital management
The employees have been protesting against the decision for over a week by observing a two-hour daily boycott of the OPD.
Mr Asfandyar said the employees were on Wednesday informed that the minister and the secretary NHS were in the hospital to hold talks with them.
“We suggested that the six-member action committee should meet them but the management informed us that the minister wanted to meet at least 200 employees. When we went to meet them along with 200 employees, the minister’s attitude was rude. He said the hospital is not being made autonomous,” he said.
“I informed them that Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry told a press conference that the cabinet had decided to run the hospital through the BoG.”
Mr Asfandyar said four attempts had been made in the past to privatise the hospital and the PTI had supported the employees.
However, the minister suddenly changed his tone and said the BoG would be established, he added.
“At this, some of the employees chanted slogans against the government decision.” At this, the minister left the place.
The hospital management on Thursday suspended two officials and issued a show-cause notice to a nurse, he said.
According to the notices issued by Pims management, the two officials were suspended for creating an “insulting atmosphere during presence of guests and Pims management.”
An explanation letter has been issued to the female nurse after she alleged corruption in the purchase of medicines and cannulas.
Mr Asfandyar said the Pims management on Thursday told him that Mr minister wanted to meet the employees. But employees refused to meet him.
“We have announced to permanently close the OPD until the suspension order and notices are withdrawn and the decision to establish the BOG is reversed,” he said.
When contacted, Pims Executive Director Dr Raja Amjad Mehmood said the employees were protesting against the BoG which had just been proposed.“It will take a long time to establish the BoG as its draft will have to be approved by the Establishment Division and Ministry of Finance. Moreover, there will be representation of the employees in the BoG. The employees will remain civil servants as it is a government hospital. It is unfortunate that the employees refused to meet the minister,” he said.
*Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019*