ISLAMABAD: Facing a severe shortage of human resource with 1,265 of the 4,152 seats (30 per cent) vacant, the management of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) has decided that no staff member will be allowed ex-Pakistan leave of more than 10 days.

However, the decision has triggered resentment among doctors who say they will have to pay the price for the “incompetence” of the ministry and the hospital management.

A notification has been issued which will remain in force till further orders. According to the notification, available with Dawn, at a meeting with the secretary Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) held on March 18 it was decided that no ex-Pakistan leave of more than 10 days will be allowed to any staff member.

The notification signed by Pims Deputy Executive Director Dr Iram Naveed was issued with the approval of Executive Director Dr Rana Imran Sikander.

Hospital facing human resource shortage as 1,265 of 4,152 posts remain vacant, says document

According to another document, 1,265 out of 4,152 seats in the hospital are vacant. Of the vacant posts, 199 have to be filled through promotions and 1066 through direct recruitment.

The segregated detail of human resource shows that there are 811 sanctioned seats of doctors in Basis Pay Scale (BPS) 17-21 of which over 50 per cent i.e. 415 are vacant. As many as 118 seats of doctors in BPS 17-21 have to be filled through promotion and 297 seats can be filled through direct recruitment.

In the nursing cadre (BPS 16-20), there are 984 seats of which 283 are vacant. At least 15 seats will be filled through promotion and 263 by direct appointments.

In the paramedics cadre (BPS 9-17), 99 of 446 seats are vacant and 33 of the seats will be filled through promotion and 66 through direct appointments.

Besides, 468 seats of non-medical staff (BPS 1-20) are vacant, of which 33 will be filled through promotions and 440 through direct appointments.

A senior doctor of the hospital, wishing not to be quoted, said the ministry and hospital administration had failed to appoint staff over the years and now doctors will have to pay for their “incompetence”.

“It was responsibility of the ministry and hospital management to ensure appointments but they failed to do so. A number of doctors go abroad for training, short courses and on personal visits but they have been banned from going abroad,” he said.

“Let us say if a doctor wants to go to USA, it takes almost 48 hours to reach there after getting connecting flights and almost the same duration while returning. At least one day rest requires after reaching USA and after returning home. We cannot understand how the decision makers have applied their mind on it,” he said.

When contacted, Pims spokesperson Dr Aneeze Jalil said the hospital was facing a severe shortage of staff but the current management and Secretary Health Iftikhar Ali Shallwani are taking all possible steps to address the issue.

“It takes up to three years to get a doctor appointed through Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC). However, the health ministry has been supporting us due to which we will manage to fill the seats within a year. It was not possible to appoint doctors during the caretaker government but now once again the process has been started and it is matter of days and weeks that the number of vacant posts will start reducing,” she said.

During the meeting held on March 18, the secretary health had emphasised the importance of ensuring highest standards of healthcare delivery and availability of doctors and medicine within hospitals.

According to a statement, the secretary was briefed by Pims officials on the pressing issue of human resource shortage. It was also brought to his notice that the problem was exacerbated by the overwhelming patient load from not only Islamabad but other regions across the country.

In response, he had directed the administration of Pims to accelerate the recruitment process. The secretary also had expressed his concerns regarding disciplinary matters concerning doctors. He said private practice of doctors employed by government should be discouraged.

He underscored the importance of curbing overseas travel on sponsored visits for doctors. He said doctors should provide affidavits confirming that any foreign visits were personally sponsored. This would ensure accountability and dedication of doctors to their professional duties. He instructed the Pims administration to ensure efficient healthcare provision and maintain professional conduct within the medical fraternity.

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2024

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