LAHORE: The transfer of over 500 employees of the Lahore General Hospital (LGH) and Punjab Institute of Neurosciences (PINS) between the two institutes after bifurcation has affected healthcare at both state-run facilities of the city.
The hundreds of employees were irked by the shuffle to the extent that several paramedics and nurses first launched an agitation and then an aggressive move to get the autonomous status of the PINS abolished.
The institutions transferred employees between themselves after the Punjab government granted the PINS autonomy, making it a 500-bed independent hospital for the treatment of neuro patients only, an official told Dawn.
He said previously, the LGH and PINS were functioning on the same premises with separate budget and administrative control but shared staff. The LGH (being a teaching institution) was catering to the needs of all kinds of patients, including neuro. The institutions had been separated when former chief justice Pakistan Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice in December 2018 and bifurcated LGH.
Following the court directions, the Punjab government had granted autonomy to the PINS the same month, the official said. Senior neurosurgeon Prof Khalid Mahmood had been appointed the first regular executive director of the institution in February 2019 on the recommendations of the search committee constituted by the Punjab government.
After bifurcation, 900 seats were created for the PINS as per the Schedule of New Expenditure (SNE) to run its administrative affairs. But the major challenge turned out to be re-adjustment of the human resource.
Recently, the heads of LGH and PINS shortlisted 500 employees of both facilities, including nurses, technical staff and paramedics, to send them to their respective institutes as per their service record. These employees, who were working in various departments of both health facilities, were sent orders to join their duties at their original institutes.
The decision created unrest among the employees, who strongly resisted the move and declared it an unnecessary step to displace them. They assembled under unions, launched a vigorous move, announced a strike, put up banners across both health facilities and warned of extreme steps.
Punjab Paramedical Staff LGH chapter President Rana Pervaiz claimed the employees were undergoing great inconvenience due to the displacement. Talking to Dawn, he claimed that 500 employees of the LGH and PINS had been displaced without being taken into confidence.
“We have been taking up this issue with the PINS executive director who is not ready to give us a sympathetic hearing,” he said. Now, the paramedics and nurses have launched a move to compel the Punjab government to reinstate previous status of the teaching hospital, Mr Pervaiz said.
He added that if the authorities wanted to retain the bifurcation, they should shift the PINS out of the LGH premises.
PINS Executive Director Prof Mahmood declared the demand of the unions and protesting employees unlawful and unnecessary. He said that since the bifurcation of the teaching institute had been done by the Punjab government, he had nothing to do with it.
“Being the largest public sector health facility for neuro-related services in the country, the 500-bed PINS is a national asset and it is a matter of serious concern that some elements in LGH have hatched a conspiracy to dent the autonomy of the institution,” he asserted.
He told Dawn that the Punjab cabinet and chief minister had approved autonomy for the PINS when a summary was moved in this regard.
LGH Chief Executive Officer and Principal Prof Sardar Mohammad Al-Fareed suggested the PINS executive director engage representatives of the protesting employees to resolve their issues to avoid any untoward incident.
“I think Prof Mahmood should start dialogue to bring the agitators to the table for discussion,” he suggested, while offering his support to resolve the issue.
Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020