Action against protesting health employees in KP begins

Updated November 09, 2019

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Govt relieves three of duty, orders stipend deduction for 28 trainee medics. — AFP/File
Govt relieves three of duty, orders stipend deduction for 28 trainee medics. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government on Friday sprang to action against the protesting health employees and relieved three of them, including a doctor, of their duties, and ordered the deduction of stipend of 28 trainee medical officers (TMOs).

Health minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan warned that the government was ready to take action if both sides did not reach an agreement.

He said the government would not reverse the reforms process at any cost.

Govt relieves three of duty, orders stipend deduction for 28 trainee medics

“The government is ready to terminate 50 top leaders of the Grand Health Alliance. Show cause notices were issued to them and personal hearing were also conducted last Tuesday,” he told Dawn.

The minister said Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had ordered the formation of a ministerial committee after the protesters called off the strike.

“If they do call it off, disciplinary action will not be reversed but will be stopped for the time being till the committee and the protesters resolve the issues,” he said.

On the other hand, the protesting health employees remained defiant and vowed to continue protest until the acceptance of their demands.

The Grand Health Alliance, a syndicate of health workers including doctors has announced to start sit-in protest in front of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly from November 11.

The health workers have been protesting for the last 45 days and boycotted their duties except emergency services.

Though the protest has crippled health services across the province, the government has yet to make breakthrough on the issue. Patients have been suffering due to the stalemate between the government and health workers.

The health workers are demanding the reversal of the Regional and District Health Authority Law, an end to the role of Dr Nosherwan Burki, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Health Taskforce in the KP’s health sector, and the removal of the health minister.

Dr Burki, a cousin of the prime minister, is considered to be the architect of health reforms in the province.

The director general (health services) through a notification relieved medical officer Dr Adnan Reayat (BPS-17), technician (pharmacy) Anwar Khan (BPS-12) and technician Mubarak Shah from their duties on administrative ground and directed them to report to the directorate.

The notification said the employees in question were involved in the illegal strike meant to serve their ulterior motives, endanger the lives of poor patients for illegal demands and gain personal gains.

“The provision of health services being an essential subject cannot be denied especially when all employees are getting their salaries inclusive of health professional allowance and are miserably failed to provide the services, they are paid,” read the order.

As the Lahore High Court had ordered the young doctors association in Punjab on Thursday to end month-long protest, the provincial government took disciplinary action against four postgraduate trainees.

“It seems that the Punjab government’s action encouraged the KP government to take action against the protesting health employees,” said an official.

In a related development, the health department ordered the deduction of stipend of 28 protesting TMOs working in three major hospitals of Peshawar for not performing duty.

The stipend of some TMOs ran from one month to six months that will be deducted.

The DG had directed all district health officers and medical superintendents to ‘compassionately observe behaviour and trends of the illegal strike provoked by the health employees for their ulterior motives’.

“List of all troublemaking staff in your formation i.e. district or DHQ may immediately be prepared and shared with the DGHS. Action under the Essential Services Act 1958 may be initiated,” he said in the notification, which was issued on Thursday night.

The notification said the competent authority had also constituted a high-level committee in the DGHS headed by additional director general (admn) and additional director general (HR) to look into all cases forwarded by DHOs and MS of DHQ hospitals.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2019