PESHAWAR: The health department has regularised the services of more than 700 doctors hired by the government during Covid-19 as medical officers on contractual basis in different districts in 2020.

Their services have been made permanent from dates of their appointments, according to a notification issued here on Wednesday.

In August, the provincial assembly approved Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Medical Officers of Health Department Regularisation of Services Act, 2022. The bill was tabled by the government to ensure presence of doctors in remote areas.

Officials said the doctors were recruited by health department to perform duty related to Covid-19 in addition to examining patients in hospitals.

They said that the doctors played frontline role in prevention and control of the pandemic.

The medics will not be transferred from their current place of duty

There was acute shortage of doctors when the pandemic broke out due to which the department started appointing ad hoc doctors, from time to time, whose performances was up to the desired level, they said.

The ad hoc medics collected samples from suspected virus-affected people and many of them got infected in the process. Some of them also transmitted the virus to their family members.

“The government has regularised their services for better performance during coronavirus outbreak but now they are required by patients in hospitals in their respective districts,” said officials.

The contract doctors are happy over the government’s notification but they request it to review the terms linked to their permanent jobs.

“We appeal to the government to make the posts transferable because several doctors belonging to Bannu, and Dera Ismail Khan are working in Malakand and other remote districts. They want to be transferred to their nearest health facilities in their native areas,” Dr Naveed Farooq Wazir, general secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ad hoc Medical Officers Association, said.

He said that the authorities would create ‘CP fund’ for contract doctors instead of ‘GP fund’ that was availed by all the government employees. He demanded of the government to place the contract doctors in the ‘GP fund category’.

“We thank Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra for acceptance of the demand of making our jobs permanent. But we request him to make our jobs transferable,” said Dr Naveed.

He said that since their appointments, the ad hoc doctors had been facing delay in getting salaries. Unlike the permanent government servants, their contracts were renewed by health department every quarter and the notification secured their jobs but government should deal them at par with other servants, he said.

Officials said the health department had notified their regularisation on the terms and conditions agreed by doctors.

They said that the doctors would perform duty at the same places because they were needed there the most.

They said that all the ad hoc doctors were performing duties related to Covid-19 to the best of their abilities and deserved to be made permanent servants of the health department as they were about to get overage and wouldn’t find jobs.

A total of 1,122 doctors of the 1,500 applicants had been recruited on contract for six months in April 2020. After completion of the first six-month tenure, the contract of 965 doctors was extended and the rest were shown the door for poor performance. In another agreement for six-month, more doctors were terminated. Their present strength is 740.

Officials said that many doctors were performing duty at private hospitals along with their government post in violation of law and their services were terminated after holding proper enquiries against them while others lost their jobs because they were trainee medical officers (TMOs) and drew two salaries.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2022

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