Sources told Dawn though the decision was strongly rejected by all agitating doctors, including the senior ones, as they were insisting for a special pay package promised to them, the Punjab government mishandled the issue by announcing that the raise (Rs12,000 to 20,000) would be granted in the next few years which meant the doctors would have to wait for some more years to get the promised raise.
A senior Health Department official requesting not to be named told Dawn the Punjab government's 'u-turn' on the salary raise issue showed that some bureaucrats were acting as spoilers.
The government's backtracking annoyed the senior doctors who warned the government that they would also withdraw their services if the salary issue was not resolved amicably.
The Punjab chapter of Medical Teachers Association (MTA) on Monday conveyed its stance to the Punjab government through a senior Health Department official. The MTA also rejected the alternate plan of the government of running the critical care departments of hospitals through untrained and fresh doctors.
The MTA Punjab represents senior doctors of all teaching institutions in province and has announced its full support to the YDA.
MTA's Punjab general secretary Dr Tehseen Riaz told Dawn that in a meeting with the Health Special Secretary Waseem Mukhtar, a 35-member MTA delegation, headed by Prof Javed Akram, told the government to implement the special pay package promised by Senior Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister Sirdar Zulfiqar Khosa on March 31.
He said the MTA also demanded that the government reinstate the suspended young doctors.
Dr Riaz said four chapters of MTA at Jinnah Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Services Hospital, Multan Institute of Cardiology and Punjab Medical College, Faisalabad, held emergent meetings and condemned the government's “rigid” behaviour towards the striking doctors.
They also passed their resolutions and conveyed their decisions to the MTA's Punjab office-bearers.
According to resolutions and decisions by the four chapters of the MTA and its office-bearers, he said all the senior doctors had decided to give 24 hours to the Punjab government to show serious attitude towards the solution of the health crisis and the salary issue or they would withdraw their services also.
Dr Tehseen Riaz added senior doctors would not be responsible for any mishap or untoward incident in hospitals.
YDA: YDA office-bearer Dr Abubkr Gondal has condemned the initiative of the government of dividing its own so-called 'pay package' in annual budgets, saying that the attitude of the government showed that it has no “political thinking”. He said that Health Secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad had mishandled the issue from the day one which reached the point of no return.
He said the special pay package was finalized in early days of the strike of doctors in some meetings of inquiry committees constituted by the Health Department and later with the senior government officials.