LRH doctors quitting over lack of promotion prospects

Published May 11, 2021
This file photo shows a view of the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. — Photo courtesy Saad Sarfraz Sheikh/File
This file photo shows a view of the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. — Photo courtesy Saad Sarfraz Sheikh/File

PESHAWAR: Senior consultants have been resigning from the province’s biggest Lady Reading Hospital allegedly due to lack of job satisfaction, unfriendly environment and no prospect of promotion for faculty in near future.

Officials at LRH administration say that those quitting their jobs don’t fulfil promotion criteria and are unwilling to do research besides remaining absent due to which they have been made accountable.

During the past three years, more than 24 consultants have quit LRH and joined other hospitals or proceeded abroad, according to consultants, who have resigned from their positions at the hospital.

Besides consultants, more than 36 junior doctors have also left the hospital, citing bad environment and lack of promotion chances, a charge rejected by the administration.

Admin says senior consultants being made accountable for refusing to do research

During the past few days, diabetologist Dr Sobia Sabir and gynaecologist Dr Samdana Wahab quit their job for the same reasons, according to sources. The administration confirmed that both the doctors resigned.

The series of resignations by specialists led to closure and resumption of services at the oldest hospital from time to time. LRH receives 5,000 patients at its outpatients department per day.

The hospital has suffered a great deal because of the resignations of doctors from Covid-19 wards. The doctors argued that non-medical people were issuing directives to them.

“Most of us are leaving and looking for the first available opportunity. The senior-most consultants are planning to get early retirement due to the attitude of the administration,” a consultant told Dawn.

He said that services of two professors were put at the disposal of health secretariat. The medical teaching institution employees had no future and no other option but to quit despite lucrative salaries, he added.

In 2015, the provincial government passed Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act (MTIRA) which was initially implemented in four teaching hospitals of the province -- LRH, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex in Peshawar and Ayub Teaching Hospital in Abbottabad. Later, it was extended to more hospitals and their affiliated medical colleges. Presently 10 hospitals are covered under the law.

Before the enforcement of MTIRA 2015, all the health facilities worked under health secretariat but those covered under the law are governed by their respective Board of Governors (BoG) independently and the secretariat has no administrative and financial control over them.

Dr Nausherwan Burki, the architect of MTIRA, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is also chairman BoG at LRH. He has often been accused by the doctors of micromanaging the hospital through his favourites without any regard for the opinion of senior faculty.

He is also chairman of the Policy Board, which is required to ensure that all MTIs pursue uniform policy.

“[They are resigning] mostly because they realise that they don’t meet the promotion criteria and their time is up. Secondly, many more doctors are being recruited than the very few who have left,” Dr Burki told Dawn, when asked about the reasons for resignation of doctors.

He said that absenteeism among doctors was checked on a regular basis. “The problem during the pandemic is that with restriction of elective cases there is very little work in some specialties and those doctors tend to not come or leave early. We are recommending that they spend this time in teaching or research,” said Dr Burki.

Sources said that LRH was under the focus of the associations of doctors, nurses and paramedics because the services of most of the employees, who were basically government servants, were surrendered to the directorate general health services or health secretariat.

They said that presently only five per cent of the LRH 3,500 employees were civil servants, who were also being shown the door.

They added that there would be no strike in LRH as the employees hired under the MTIRA 2015 were given competitive salaries and bright chances of promotions and could be terminated by BoG in accordance with the law.

“On contrary, the government is unable to take action against civil servants. LRH has managers, who record the presence and absence of doctors on the basis of which deduction is made from their salaries at the end of every month,” said sources.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2021

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