PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is unlikely to increase the stipend of trainee medical officers despite the recommendation of a 30 per cent raise by the Postgraduate Medical Institute, insist health officials.
They told Dawn that PGMI chief executive officer Prof Sahibzada Mahmood Noor wrote a letter to the health department two months ago seeking an increase in the stipend of TMOs but it had yet to get a response.
All members of the Provincial Doctors Association have been observing a token strike in government hospitals across the province for the last three weeks to demand stipend raise for trainee doctors.
In a communication, the PGMI, which carries out the postgraduate training of doctors in the province, has drawn a comparison of the salaries drawn by the local TMOs with their counterparts from Punjab, Sindh and Islamabad, and recommended an increase in payments to them, according to officials.
Officials say financial problems preventing increase in monthly payment to TMOs
They said that the institute insisted that every TMO in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa got Rs85,157 on a monthly basis in the first year of their training programme in different specialties, Rs90,167 in the second, Rs95,189 in the third, Rs105,202 in the fourth and Rs115,224 in the final year but the amount was less than the payments to each of their counterparts in Islamabad, who were paid Rs104,390 annually.
Officials said that a stipend raise wasn’t possible due to the acute financial problems facing the province.
They said that the province had 6,047 TMOs, who were playing a vital role in the provision of health services to the residents.
The officials said that the TMOs were inducted on “merit” for the slots sanctioned by the College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan, the examining body for postgraduate trainees in the country.
They said that the monthly stipend of TMOs was around Rs600 million.
The officials said that the 30 per cent stipend increase would require an additional amount of Rs1.764 billion annually.
They said that every TMO received Rs70, 000 as basic salary every month and Rs15,000 as accommodation allowance, while those undergoing training in rare specialties received Rs50,000 allowance.
The officials said that TMOs of medicine and surgery fields paid Rs31,000 and Rs39,000 respectively by themselves for attending the mandatory CPSP workshops before the amount was reimbursed by the health department through the PGMI.
When contacted, a representative of trainee doctors, Dr Naveed Farooq Wazir, said that members of his community performed duty round the clock but the stipend paid to them didn’t commensurate with their work, so it needed to be enhanced appropriately.
He said that the doctors had been observing a token strikeat work for three weeks to demand apay raise but the government was indifferent to the demand.
Dr Wazir said that the finance department used to release funds to the PGMI for TMOs on a quarterly basis but the “issue” stood resolved as the amount was being disbursed on a monthly basis.
He said that trainee doctors demanded a pay raise in line with the rate of inflation.
The representative of TMOs said that most trainee doctors had to borrow from friends and relatives to meet expenses due to record inflation.
“Our salaries haven’t been increased for three years despite a 100 per cent hike in inflation,” he complained.
Dr Wazir said that not only TMOs but medical officers and house officers of public sector hospitals should also be given a reasonable pay raise.
“We have also been asking the government to increase slots of TMOs in hospitals like other provinces to produce more and more medical specialists to serve the people in rural areas,” he said.
The representative of TMOs said that the number of medical graduates was increasing and therefore, more postgraduate training slots were direly needed.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2023