LAHORE: A majority of the government hospitals in Punjab are being run on an ‘additional charge’ basis, making a mockery of good governance.

The situation is disturbing particularly in south Punjab, the home region of Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, where several hospitals including the largest Nishtar Hospital, Multan, are also awaiting appointment of heads.

It shocked many when it transpired that, except one, all the public sector cardiac institutes/hospitals of Punjab are being run on a ‘look-after basis.’

Medical experts say in the international healthcare system, there is a strong concept of running the cardiac institutes by properly qualified and experienced heads as they believe that the heart patients have to face several risks if timely treatment is delayed ‘in first golden hour’.

Four cardiac institutes being run on temporary basis

Moreover, the medical colleges and general hospitals are among them besides the cardiac institutes awaiting heads to run administrative and financial affairs on a regular basis.

Some of them are being ‘looked after’ on a day-to-day basis by reportedly ‘incompetent’ staff and others by ‘irrelevant’ officials.

Talking to Dawn, a senior official says the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) Lahore, Faisalabad Institute of Cardiology (FIC), Chaudhry Pervez Elahi Institute of Cardiology, Multan, and Wazirabad Institute of Cardiology (WIC) are awaiting appointment of regular heads.

He says the officials holding additional charge of these institutes have limited power to take major steps for the procurement of medicines, surgical equipment or other matters related to the services of the doctors and staff.

The official says Nishtar Medical University is the only varsity in south Punjab housing an elaborate set-up of medical education and healthcare services.

Unfortunately, the slots of both principal of the Nisthar Medical College and the attached hospital are lying vacant.

He says the Nishtar Medical College has been headed by a BS-20 professor for the last two years or so. Under the laid-down procedure, hiring of a regular principal of a government medical college is made on the recommendations of the selection committee which is mandated to hold interviews and recommend panel of three candidates.

“However, the Punjab health secretariat has appointed a medical teacher as principal of the Nishtar Medical College through just a standing order allegedly bypassing the procedure,” he says.

Similarly, the attached hospital of the NMU is also being run by a junior doctor of BS-18, as he has been given additional charge on the ‘influence’ by the chief minister secretariat.

These days, the hospital is facing shortage of medicines as no procurement was made in bulk to meet the requirement, the official says, adding the hospital’s administration has allowed ‘local purchase’ of medicines, a ‘faulty’ system that purchased drugs on exorbitant rates from the market.

He says the doctor holding additional charge of the Nishtar Hospital does not have degree of Masters in Public Health, a mandatory requirement to head a government teaching hospital.

The two top slots of the Nishtar Institute of Dentistry are also lying vacant for the last one year or so.

Junior doctors are holding the charge of principal and the medical superintendent of the institute.

He says the Children Medical Complex, Multan, houses two health facilities to provide medical education to the doctors and the healthcare to kids. The institute has no regular dean for the last six months while the slot of the MS has been vacant for the last one year or so.

The top slot of executive director of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi Institute of Cardiology, Multan, has also been lying vacant for the last six months or so.

He says the NMU vice chancellor has been holding the additional charge of the cardiac hospital since then.

The Quaid-i-Azam Medical College, Bahawalpur, and its attached Bahawalpur Victoria Hospital have been awaiting regular heads for the last one year and six months, respectively.

The Government Gujrnawala Medical College is also awaiting a regular principal while a medical teacher of Nishtar Medical University is running the Sahiwal Medical College on ‘look-after basis’.

The principal of the Shaikh Zayed Hospital, Rahim Yar Khan, had applied for premature retirement due to some personal reasons and the government is yet to make appointment of its head on a regular basis, the official says.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2022

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