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Another patient dies as doctors continue strike

July 04, 2012

RAWALPINDI, July 3: As the young doctors’ strike continues, so does the human suffering at three government-run hospitals in the garrison city as a cardiac patient allegedly died at Holy Family Hospital due to the unavailability of doctors.  

On June 30, Arzoo Bibi, 55, was admitted to Holy Family Hospital with a cardiac problem. She was admitted to the female ward of Medical Unit 2.

When her condition deteriorated on Tuesday her son contacted the administration which immediately sent doctors, but she did not wait and passed away.

Dr Arshad Ali Khan, additional medical superintendent of the hospital, however, denied the allegation that doctors were not available. A medical officer provided her with treatment. He said such deaths occurred in the hospitals on a routine basis.

Despite repeated attempts, HFH Medical Superintendent, Dr. Muhammad Fayyaz, was not available for comments.

The situation at hospitals went from bad to worse when the younger doctors withdrew from providing their services. The insufficient staff put the administration in even more trouble. According to official figures, more than 300 postgraduate trainees, house officers and medical officers were working at Holy Family Hospital, 250 at BBH and 190 at DHQ hospital.

The Punjab government deployed military doctors, demonstrators of Rawalpindi Medical College, and even appointed new doctors; but, it seemed like there was no end to the patients’ miseries.

The gynae wards of three hospitals told a tragic tale: due to the widespread unavailability of senior doctors, the wards had to be run by senior nursing staff and inexperienced doctors instead.

Intensive Care Units (ICUs), which require experienced doctors in order to function, also became a victim of neglect. As a result, the government and doctors’ tussle left the patients attached to ventilators at the mercy of doctors from the Basic Health Unit (BHU) that had no experience when it came to ventilators.

YDA Punjab Chairman, Dr Mohammad Haroon, said that it was not the doctors’ fault, but that the provincial government must take strict action regarding withdrawal of services from emergency departments, ICUs and Inpatient departments.

He said that the government would be unable to work in the hospitals without the trained doctors who were protesting for their due rights.

He said that the government should call more doctors from the Pakistan Army, and the deployment of five military doctors per hospital was nonsense.

“The doctors from rural areas are not able to run the ICUs and conduct surgery at emergency departments because the government is forcing the trained doctors to stay at home,” he claimed.

In response to a question regarding the release of doctors in Lahore, he said that the provincial government had released only arrested medical students and that the main leadership of YDA Punjab was still in jail.

“We will not come to the table unless the YDA Punjab leadership is released as I alone cannot make decisions,” he said and added that the young doctors were united and they did not continue performing their duties at three allied hospitals of Rawalpindi.

On the other hand, Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) Principal Prof. Dr. Mussadiq Khan said that the situation in the three hospitals of the garrison city was under control, and the doctors were doing their job.

“More than 30 young doctors rejoined their duties in Benazir Bhutto Hospital and they have been provided police protection due to threats of the YDA,” he said.

DHQ Hospitals Medical Superintendent, Dr Sher Ali Khan, reported that 57 doctors joined their duties, six of whom were young doctors of the same hospital, 26 were demonstrators of RMC, eight were newly recruited by the Punjab Public Service Commission, four were from Chakwal, eight were from local dispensaries, and five were doctors Pakistan Army.

BBH Medical Superintendent, Dr Asif Qadir Mir, reported that 56 doctors had joined their duties including 20 young doctors of the same hospital, 18 demonstrators of RMC, seven from Jhelum, four from Mianwali, two from Attock, and five from Pakistan Army.

HFH Hospital Medical Superintendent, Dr. Fayyaz Ahmed, reported that 53 doctors had joined their duties including 20 demonstrators of RMC, five army doctors, and 17 newly recruited by Punjab Public Service Commission.