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LAHORE, March 5: The Punjab government has again ignored senior medics and appointed a junior doctor as principal of the Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS)/Services Hospital.

Professor of Ophthalmology at Fatima Jinnah Medical College Dr Hamid Mehmood Butt was finalised for the top slot of SIMS/Services Hospital by the chief minister and the Health Department issued a notification on Tuesday, a senior official told Dawn requesting anonymity.

He said King Edward Medical University (KEMU) Pro-Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Asad Aslam Khan and the Institute of Public Health Dean Prof Maaz Ahmad had refused the post when the health authorities contacted them for interview.

KEMU’s Professor of Orthopedic Dr SM Awais, third on the seniority list, could not impress the interviewing penal, headed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

According to the ‘combined seniority list of Professors of Health Department’, released on April 9, 2012, Prof Mehmood Butt is junior to 51 other colleagues. The list is also available with Dawn.

Earlier, principals of the two other medical colleges in Lahore and one at Sialkot were also posted allegedly in violation of the merit policy.

The most blatant violation of merit was witnessed in the posting of AIMC Professor of Anatomy Dr Nosheen Omar who was made Khwaja Safdar Medical College, Sialkot, principal last year, ignoring 107 doctors senior to her. She was the 108th on the seniority list at the time of her appointment. Later, she was replaced by Prof Dr Zafar Ali Chaudhry.

The official said the Health Department had recommended four candidate medics to the chief minister for the top post of the SIMS lying vacant after Prof Dr Faisal Masood was transferred and posted as the KEMU vice chancellor.

Prof Hamid Mehmood Butt was also among the four candidates. The other three were: Prof Javed Gardezi, Prof Dr Ferdous Sultana of the Services Hospital and Prof Sabrina Paul of Mayo Hospital.

He said several senior medics protested when they came to know that the Health Department had included junior doctors in the list of candidates.

On this, the chief minister directed the department to shortlist some more senior doctors for interview for the vacant slot along with those recommended in the summary.

Consequently, Prof Dr Arshad Cheema, Prof Dr SM Awais and Prof Dr Atif Kazmi of KEMU were also called at 180-H Model Town for interview.

Health Secretary Arif Nadeem, Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique and Adviser to CM and former health secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad were also among the penal.