Patients suffer as govt not interested in holding talks with striking medics

Updated October 16, 2019

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The three-week strike by the Grand Health Alliance  is only harming the patients coming to the OPDs of public sector hospitals and they have to visit private clinics, hospitals and institutional basis practice and pay consultation fee for treatment. — Reuters/File
The three-week strike by the Grand Health Alliance is only harming the patients coming to the OPDs of public sector hospitals and they have to visit private clinics, hospitals and institutional basis practice and pay consultation fee for treatment. — Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: The three-week strike by the Grand Health Alliance is only harming the patients coming to the OPDs of public sector hospitals and they have to visit private clinics, hospitals and institutional basis practice and pay consultation fee for treatment.

The strike that started on September 27 throughout the province has been affecting the poor patients, who want to get examined by paying Rs10 at government hospitals. The patients visiting private clinics remain unaffected by the protest.

In three main Peshawar-based hospitals -- Khyber Teaching Hospital, Hayatabad Medical Complex and Lady Reading Hospital -- a group of striking employees gather at the OPDs where a few leaders, mostly from paramedics and Class-IV deliver fiery speeches and then vanish.

Private clinics receive more patients owing to doctors’ protest

The OPDs remain closed because the respective administrations hesitate to initiate action and repeat the incident of LRH where scores of protesters sustained injuries, paving way for the ongoing strike.

The private clinics and hospitals, especially located in Dabgari Gardens, stay open as usual where consultants say that number of patients has increased owing to the strike. Many patients, who don’t find doctors in morning shift in OPDs of the hospitals, visit private medical centres where they get examined by consultants.

The patients having acquaintances in hospitals don’t face problems in getting doctors there because they go to the wards where they are seen but the simple people, who don’t know anyone, are destined to go back home or visit private clinics provided they have the money.

Besides the consultation free, the cost of investigation in private sector is much higher than the hospitals. The fee of an X-ray chest is Rs100 in government hospital for OPD patients but the same is done at Rs200 to Rs500 in private sector.

An elderly patient said that she failed to find a doctor in KTH despite remaining there for couple of hours. She said that then she went to a private hospital for chest-related problem where she spent Rs5,000.

“Now, I don’t have money to purchase medicines because I have only Rs400, which will meet our travel cost to Bannu,” she said. Other patients made similar complaints and blamed both the health employees and government for their woes.

GHA is an organisation formed by doctors, nurses, paramedics and Class-IV staff to hold protest against Regional and District Health Authorities Act, 2019 besides other issues.

It has been virtually become an affair of few people in each hospital. The doctors, nurses and paramedics aren’t visible in small protests held on daily basis and the entire show is being run by Class-IV employees.

The government isn’t interested to hold talks with the protesters and has left the patients at the mercy of hospitals where the authorities cannot take risk to forcibly open the OPDs and allow examination of patients.

The administrative staff at the hospitals comes and goes. The role of opposition parties has also been very strange. Most of the local opposition leaders like to attend the protest meetings of health workers and deliver speeches but they don’t persuade them to see the patients in OPD and adopt some other mode of protest that doesn’t suffer the patients.

The institution-based practice at the government hospitals is also in progress but patients have to pay the consultation fee.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019