ISLAMABAD: Employees of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) on Saturday called off their strike, which was to begin on Aug 26 (Monday).

“Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Secretary Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik visited Pims on Saturday and held a meeting with the doctors and staff. During the meeting, an assurance was given to the staff that they would be taken on board while finalising the draft of Medical Teaching Institution (MTI). Moreover, the meeting was also told that salaries of all staff would be increased,” Pims Joint Executive Director Dr Ijaz Qadeer told Dawn.

The doctors had announced their decision to close the outpatient departments (OPDs) from Monday against the proposed MTI under which the hospital would be run through a board of governors. The employees were of the view that the proposal was an attempt to privatise the hospital.

Dr Qadeer said the secretary NHS told the doctors said the draft of the MTI was being prepared and would be shared with the employees as soon as it was completed.

“Moreover, the employees were also informed that their input would be included in the draft. The meeting was told that a decision was also being taken to improve the performance of the hospital due to which both staff and patients would benefit.”

He said on Thursday Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Zafar Mirza had announced to increase salaries of doctors by Rs40,000 to Rs50,000 per month.

The secretary also visited Mother and Child Hospital and directed the staff to improve patients care there. He said a reform agenda would be implemented in the hospital, Dr Qadeer said.

Pims Executive Director Dr Ansar Maxood said he was thankful to Dr Mirza and the secretary NHS as the issue was addressed because of their intervention.

“The decision to call off the strike would end uncertainty in the hospital and all matters of the hospital would be streamlined. Now we can focus only on patient care,” he said.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, the secretary met the representatives of doctors’ association who had announced a protest with regard to the initiative of the government to introduce MTI for government sector hospitals.

After successful talks with the secretary, the doctors’ association represented by Dr Asfandyar Khan called off the strike. The doctors were assured by the health ministry that no law would be introduced without holding consultations with them and the draft of the proposed legislation would be shared with them before it was implemented.

The interest of the medical community will always be upheld, said a spokesman for the ministry.

Meanwhile, Dr Asfandyar welcomed the increase in the allowances of doctors in the federal capital.

A statement issued by the employees said the strike had been called off after getting an assurance that the employees would be consulted.

“It is also decided that all vacant posts which are around 1,370 will be filled as soon as possible. All pending cases of promotions of all cadres will be carried out in Sept 2019. We welcome the increase in salaries of doctors/nurses and demand the same package for non-doctors of Pims.”

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2019