Illegal occupation of health staff residences affects patients’ care

Updated 02 Sep 2020

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Officials said that health employees were unwilling to be posted to the hospitals that lacked accommodation. — Photo courtesy Sirjauddin/File
Officials said that health employees were unwilling to be posted to the hospitals that lacked accommodation. — Photo courtesy Sirjauddin/File

PESHAWAR: Occupation of residences meant to house the employees of health department by officials of other departments in different districts has been badly affecting the patients’ care, according to sources.

The director-general health services of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Tuesday asked the district health officers and medical superintendents to vacate the official residences from the illegal occupants in their respective districts with the help of district administration to ensure better patients’ care.

A letter entitled “Vacation of illegal residential accommodation and service areas of health department across the province” said that it was noticed by the competent authority that many residential accommodation and service areas of the health department were illegally occupied by people other than health department, thereby depriving all entitled employees to avail the facility that was badly affecting service delivery.

The letter has instructed the officials to vacate illegally occupied places with the help of district administration within a week and submit reports accordingly.

Officials told Dawn that vacating the residences from illegal occupants had become a herculean task for the department as the occupants included high-ranking officials of other departments as well as those, who had political connections, and couldn’t be evicted despite letters issued in the past.

They said that there were at least 91 bungalows and 40 flats, which were supposed to house doctors, nurses and paramedics for uninterrupted service delivery but the department’s instructions in that regard had fallen on deaf ears.

Officials say some of the occupants have been living there illegally for more than 10 years

“As a result, the patients suffer because the health facilities in many districts don’t have staff in night shift due to which the critically-ill patients can’t be given the desired treatment,” they said.

The officials said police checkposts were established in two basic health units in Charsadda district where unauthorised dwellers included a police officer, personnel of Anti-Corruption Establishment, Bacha Khan University, district administration, DHO and district judiciary were living.

They said that health employees were unwilling to be posted to the hospitals that lacked accommodation.

They added that more than 18 residences were being used by district administration, police, education department, tehsil municipal administration, lady health visitor, district account office, DHO office, livestock and population welfare departments in Chitral.

In Dera Ismail Khan, the illegal occupants include senior officials of district administration, district judiciary, retired employees of health department, police, private persons and Gomal University while in Dir Upper the official houses are being used by a private contractor, officials of police, judiciary and revenue departments, district administration and tehsil municipal administration.

Former and present employees of health department have occupied the residences in Haripur, while in Mansehra employees of Degree College, Wapda and communication and works department live in official houses illegally.

Three accommodations in Swabi, two in Swat, one in Maulvi Jee Hospital are being used by people illegally.

At least four residences in the districts were occupied by private people, officials said.

They said that in most of the cases, the occupants had been living illegally there for more than 10 years. It has deprived the lawful employees of their accommodations while health department has to pay their electricity and gas bills besides paying the cost of maintenance and repair.

In Kohat, Hangu, Buner, North Waziristan, Khyber, Battagram, Lakki Marwat, Karak and Abbottabad, the occupants continued to use residences meant for health employees, officials said.

The Provincial Doctors Association has been demanding of the health department to provide accommodation to the doctors so that patients’ care isn’t affected.

However, the department has not been able to take any action against the illegal occupants and the patients are at the receiving end.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2020