ISLAMABAD: After days of efforts, Health Secretary Mirza Nasiruddin Mashhood on Tuesday succeeded in convincing employees of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) to call off their strike againstMedical Teaching Institutions (MTI) law.

Over 100,000 patients who intended to visit outpatient departments (OPDs) suffered and around 5,000 elective surgeries were postponed due to the strike which lasted 16 days. On an average, 10,000 patients visit OPDs while 300 elective surgeries are performed at the hospital on a daily basis.

On Monday, Mr Mashhood had invited Pims employees to the ministry and heard their issues, assuring them that he would try to get all their demands accepted. However, on Tuesday he reached Pims to convince employees to call off their strike.

Federal Health Alliance (FHA) spokesperson Dr Asfandyar Khan said the employees were suffering because of the MTI Act as they had lost the status of civil servants.

Hospital staff assured all demands to be accepted

“On one hand employees are not being promoted on the vacant posts while on the other MTI management was appointing blue-eyed persons on the vacant posts,” Dr Khan said, adding that, “earlier, there was only one executive director (ED) who drew a salary of around Rs200,000 per month; now five directors have been appointed on whom Rs10 million are being spent per month,” he said.

Dr Asfandyar said non-gazetted employees were not being promoted, adding that it was unfortunate that President Dr Arif Alvi was not signing the MTI Repeal Bill.

In November 2020, President Dr Alvi had promulgated the MTI Ordinance under which the hospital was to be run through a board of governors (BoG).

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. Later appointments were made under MTI Act.

The current government passed the MTI Repeal Bill and sent it to the president to get his nod 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.

FHA President Dr Haider Abbasi said the situation of the hospital was worsening with every passing day and even vacant seats of Assistant and Associate Professors were being filled without following any merit.

Another employee Shahid Khattak said that the service structure of the class four employees was not implemented till date as compared to Polyclinic where it was implemented in 1992.

Special Secretary Health Mirza Nasiruddin Mashhood called the hospital management and directed that no appointment would be made in future. He also assured the employees that ministry will play its role in repealing the MTI Act.

Talking to Dawn, Dr Asfandyar said employees were thankful to Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel and the special secretary health for taking interest in addressing the issue.

“We suggest patients to come to hospital from Wednesday (today) as all the OPDs will be open and elective surgeries will be performed as per routine,” he added.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022

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