ISLAMABAD: With over a week having passed since the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) employees went on strike, closing out-patient departments (OPDs) and suspending elective surgeries, doctors, who want to treat patients, are allegedly being blackmailed by technicians and nursing staff.

On the other hand, some doctors of the hospital are using nursing and class IV staff to convince patients to go to private clinics for treatment.

In November 2020, President Dr Arif Alvi had promulgated the Medical Teaching Institution (MTI) Ordinance under which the hospital was to be run through a board of governors (BoG) entrusted to deal with the affairs of Pims.

Members were appointed and notified by the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) on the recommendation of a search and nomination council. Even though employees protested against the ordinance, it sailed through the parliament.

People coming from far-flung areas being referred to private hospitals being run by agitating employees

Meanwhile, the current government passed the MTI Repeal Bill and sent it to the president for approval but he returned it with a suggestion to reconsider it. Now, the government is left with no choice but to pass the bill again in a joint session to make it an Act of law.

A doctor at the hospital, wishing not to be named, claimed a number of doctors wanted to treat patients but they were being blackmailed by lower staff.

“I know that a number of patients come to Pims, from far-flung areas after getting loans from people or selling their cattle. It is really painful and unfair for such patients to return without getting treatment.

“I want to conduct surgery of patients but my technicians are not willing to cooperate with me,” he alleged.

Another doctor said it was unfortunate that the OPDs were closed and thousands of patients were returning from the hospital on a daily basis.

“On the other hand, some doctors, who are in favour of the strike, have deputed class IV employees to tell patients to visit private hospitals which they ran or worked at,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that some of the doctors who favour the strike go to private hospitals in the morning, hoping that the patients would be referred to them from Pims,” he said.

Talking to Dawn, NHS ministry spokesperson Sajid Shah said Pims staff was well aware that Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel had taken an initiative and made all possible efforts to get the MTI Repeal Bill sail through parliament.

“However, President Alvi reverted the bill due to which it could not become an Act. Unfortunately, employees, without realising that the strike was creating a bad impression for the ministry, are continuing with their protest,” he said.

Mr Shah appealed to the employees to call off the strike as patients were suffering, adding that “the health minister has been taking all possible steps to address the issue”.

Published in Dawn, November 29th, 2022

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