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LAHORE: Outpatient departments of public sector health facilities in the city, including seven teaching hospitals, remained closed on the fourth day of the strike on Thursday as doctors refused to resume their duties till the issuance of a notification of their service structure.

A large number of patients returned disappointed when the doctors at the emergency departments also denied them treatment. According to sources, senior doctors also ignored indoor patients at government hospitals except those (patients) who were either referred by the institute’s top administration, health department or the chief minister secretariat.

Some medical experts expressed their apprehension that the poor and deserving patients may turn to quacks and spiritual healers in present circumstances.

A senior doctor of Jinnah Hospital, who wished not to be named, said it was shocking for him when some of his colleagues in an ‘informal sitting’ on Thursday said they were not attending patients at the indoor departments because of threats posed by unruly YDA members.

Quoting a participant in the sitting, he said during the last strike called by the young doctors in April, a senior doctor of the surgery department was confined to his office at Jinnah Hospital by a group of annoyed striking medics for attending the patients.

“There is no breakthrough and the strike will continue till the acceptance of the draft of the proposed service structure finalised by the medical organisations,” YDA representative Dr Mudassar Khan said.

He said the health authorities should accelerate efforts for finalising the service structure to minimise the sufferings of the patients.

Health Special Secretary Dawood Bareach told Dawn the health authorities were in contact with the representatives of the striking doctors.

He said the budget proposals submitted by striking doctors were not realistic. Similarly, he said, the way adopted by them to get service structure was also not reasonable.

He said despite these facts, the health department was seriously discussing all the aspects of doctors’ proposals and their financial impact and would make public its decision at an appropriate time.