PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has formally requested district administrations to evict illegal occupants from the houses built inside hospitals for doctors, nurses and other staff members.

According to officials, the department, on the directives of the health secretary, has compiled a list of these illegally occupied houses, including 90 bungalows and 41 flats.

They told Dawn that after the ouster of unauthorised occupants, who were employees of other government departments, those houses would be allotted to the employees of hospitals to ensure uninterrupted provision of care to visitors, especially emergency patients.

The health secretary has formally asked district health officers and medical superintendents of civil and district hospitals in several districts to engage district administrations for the eviction of illegal occupants from houses built on their premises for staff members, especially doctors.

Health dept seeks help of district admins for crackdown

The officials said the hospital residences were unlawfully occupied by assistant commissioners, judges, deputy commissioners, district police officers, Levies personnel, deputy superintendents of police, officials of the revenue department, Wapda and anti-corruption establishment, clerks, Class-IV and Rescue 1122 employees, doctors working with foreign agencies, including the World Health Organisation, United Nations Population Fund, National Stop Transmission of Polio programme, public relations officer to the chief minister, a section officer (sports), employees of the Radio Pakistan, Hayatabad Medical Complex, social welfare department, National Commission for Human Development, National Database Registration Authority, population department and Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programme, drivers, teachers, computer operators, public prosecutors, and people from the private sector.

They said the district health officers and hospital medical superintendents had repeatedly complained to the health department that patients suffered due to the unavailability of doctors, nurses and paramedics during afternoon and night shifts as the houses built on the premises for them were illegally occupied.

The officials said the health department wanted district administrations to help vacate those houses for allotment of hospital employees, whose presence on the premises was needed the most in both normal and emergency situations.

They said the list compiled by the health department had the names and designations of the people living in hospital residences without authorisation.

The officials said those houses had been illegally occupied for one to five years and that “efforts” of the hospitals to evict occupants failed.

They said most doctors and other health workers transferred to “periphery” hospitals often complained about a lack of accommodation.

In the letter, the health secretary sought meetings by the respective deputy commissioners to chalk out strategies for the vacation of those houses with the help of the police.

The officials, however, said an eviction notification was issued last year but the “politically well-connected” unauthorised occupants of those houses stayed put.

They insisted that patient care would significantly improve in the province if the residences of civil and district hospitals were allotted to the right employees.

The officials claimed that the crackdown on illegal occupation would improve the care of critically-injured and ill people, who were currently referred to other facilities even for manageable problems.

They said in some hospitals, including Peshawar’s Maulvi Ameer Shah Memorial Hospital, more than 30 residences were illegally occupied.

The officials said things were no different in Mardan, Karak, Hangu, Swat, Dera Ismail Khan, Kohistan, Battagram and Mohmand hospitals as well as Women and Children’s Hospitals of Bannu and Charsadda.

They said the department couldn’t initiate disciplinary action against hospital employees for remaining absent from night shifts as they lived in faraway places.

Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2023

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