Govt mulls action against protesting YDA leaders in Punjab

Updated October 16, 2019

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The health department has decided to terminate services of president of Punjab Young Doctors Association Dr Qasim Awan and Secretary General Salman Haseeb for disrupting provision of healthcare forcibly. — AFP/File
The health department has decided to terminate services of president of Punjab Young Doctors Association Dr Qasim Awan and Secretary General Salman Haseeb for disrupting provision of healthcare forcibly. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The health department has decided to terminate services of president of Punjab Young Doctors Association Dr Qasim Awan and Secretary General Salman Haseeb for disrupting provision of healthcare forcibly.

The action is being taken against them on the complaint of the medical superintendent (MS) of the Jinnah Hospital where both the young medics forced their entry, locked the outpatient department (OPD), stopped the doctors from treating patients and hurled threats at the admin officials.

Interestingly, Dr Qasim has already been terminated from ad hoc job by the Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore. However, the senior health officials are of the views that according to the latest information, Dr Qasim has recently again managed to get new job against ad hoc seat. They say a team of the health officials has been assigned the task to work on his case and issue termination letter to him if he is found on job.

Dr Salman Haseeb, who was a postgraduate trainee at the Services Hospital, Lahore would also face termination and decision would be taken in coming days, the health officials say.

An official, privy to information, told Dawn both the top leaders of the YDA Punjab had visited the Jinnah Hospital along with a group of their charged colleagues a couple of days back where they created unrest in the OPD. The hospital MS wrote a report to the specialised healthcare and medical education department, seeking action against the ‘outsiders’.

The YDA Punjab, under the banner of the Grand Health Alliance (GHA), was protesting against the promulgation of the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Ordinance 2019. They were of the views the government was privatising the public institutions by abolishing the regular services of the employees, including doctors, nurses and paramedics, which they would not accept at any cost.

However, the health department rejected the claim of the protesters.

Health Special Secretary Mian Shakeel confirmed to Dawn that action was being taken against both the leaders of the YDA, saying that since the Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions Act had nothing to do with the Jinnah Hospital, the attempt of these two leaders to force their entry into the hospital to disrupt healthcare was intolerable. He said the YDA leaders were using paramedics and nurses as tool to launch agitation.

Mr Shakeel said the government had recently accepted and addressed the YDA’s main demands and certain amendments had been made to the draft law. Giving an example, he added, the YDA had asked the health authorities to make their job pensionable under newly enforced ordinance. The other demands were about seniority issues of deputationists and the right of appeal against terminations and all these demands had been addressed, he added.

The health special secretary further said YDA had not shown the protesters the true picture and continued provoking them against the government.

To a question, he said, it had been decided to take action against both the president and the general secretary of the YDA Punjab.

On the other hand, the situation is stated to be very precarious at various public hospitals across the province where the protesters, including the young medics, locked the OPDs, denying treatment to the patients.

The situation is also disturbing in major teaching hospitals of Lahore where the YDA is allegedly using tactics to disrupt healthcare. Though, the hospitals are trying to provide healthcare to patients through senior medics in the OPDs, the constant interruption by the protesting employees is creating issues for their senior colleagues.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2019