Pims management warns protesting employees it has reached its limits of restraint

Updated 13 Jul 2020

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The hospital’s joint executive director wrote a letter to staff denouncing recent protests. — Wikimedia Commons/File
The hospital’s joint executive director wrote a letter to staff denouncing recent protests. — Wikimedia Commons/File

ISLAMABAD: The management of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences has warned protesting employees that they will lose the sympathy of the hospital administration, which has reached its limits of tolerance and restraint.

In a letter to staff, Pims Joint Executive Director Dr Minajus Siraj said they should not “leverage disasters”, adding: “You do not need to capitalise on civil unrest. You need to be human; it is not always about personal gain. At the hospital, it is about serving ailing humanity and protecting lives.”

Dr Siraj went on to say that protesting healthcare workers were not serving their life’s purpose, their profession or their job by “taking out protests, wasting time with un-called-for agitations, grouping and barging every day into management offices and not letting the administration work for the welfare of critically ill patients or even the staff.”

He added: “Everyday unrest and processions by the health care workers at Pims to whom the whole nation is looking at as their saviours is not going to weaken the hospital administration’s stance to build up the system from scratch again.”

The hospital’s joint executive director wrote a letter to staff denouncing recent protests

Pims workers have been protesting for the last few weeks. Nursing students first protested because they had not received stipends by holding a sit-in in front of the management block, which disrupted the hospital’s operations. Other doctors and nursing associations have also protested to demand a health risk allowance.

Young Consultants Association of Pakistan Chairman Dr Asfandyar Khan told Dawn it was unfortunate that the hospital is blaming the staff for its incompetence.

“The fact is that officers in the accounts section and the management wing received four additional salaries in the name of the health risk allowance, and employees who were working in isolation wards were ignored or received fewer additional salaries. Now it is being said that the funds were given to the management through a different account head,” he said.

“Similarly, last year it was announced that employees’ salaries would be increased from July 1, 2019, for which Rs780 million was allocated. But the funds lapsed as the increase in salaries was not notified. That is why the Young Doctors Association (YDA) has decided to protest on Monday,” he added.

Dr Khan said nursing students were left no choice but to protest because they have been deprived of their stipends.

YDA Pims President Dr Fazal-i-Rabbi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan allocated more than Rs780m to increase doctors’ salaries, as doctors in Islamabad were earning less than doctors in Punjab.

“However, that amount lapsed. The Supreme Court also directed last year that there should be parity in doctors’ salaries working in different parts of the country, but we could not get the enhancement because of the management and the ministry. Now, we have decided to hold a protest on Monday,” Dr Rabbi said.

Dr Siraj said that the raise for healthcare workers is being processed by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS), and the process is being followed by Pims on a daily basis.

Dr Siraj claimed that “unlawful associations, unions, societies, organisations and illegal media appearances are hell-bent to destroy” a peaceful workplace where every other facility and service is being provided.

Speaking to Dawn, he said the management was taking all the steps possible to address the grievances and demands of hospital staff, but added that this did not mean staff were allowed to protest at the cost of patients’ health or the weakening of the healthcare system.

Calling attention notice on closed OPDs

MNA Ali Nawaz Awan on Sunday tabled a calling attention notice calling for outpatient departments (OPD) in Islamabad hospitals to be reopened.

In his notice, addressed to the NHS minister - the portfolio for which is held by the prime minister - Mr Awan said that OPDs were closed in March to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

When it was decided that OPDs could be reopened, Polyclinic opened its OPD but Pims did not because the OPD was being renovated. The Polyclinic OPD was also closed later when healthcare staff contracted Covid-19.

Mr Awan told Dawn that OPDs should be reopened because the coronavirus has been controlled in the capital and fewer than 100 new cases have been reported in the last few days in the city.

“Usually, 10,000 patients visit Pims and 7,000 visit Polyclinic every day. This huge number of patients have been suffering since March. I decided to table a calling attention notice so that people do not suffer anymore. I suggest that all OPDs should be opened and SOPs should be followed,” he said.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2020