LAHORE: About 900 postgraduate trainees (PGTs), including 500 those inducted in August this year, are working unpaid in various public sector teaching hospitals across the province.
These disturbing details surfaced when the medical institutions sent details to the health department about the old and new unpaid PGTs.
Talking to Dawn, an official, privy to the information, termed the situation pathetic at the teaching hospitals of Lahore, the hub of mega medical institutions.
He said that most of the unpaid PGTs were working at the Jinnah Hospital, Services Hospital, Lahore General Hospital and Mayo Hospital. Recently, he added, the health department had introduced new Central Induction Policy (CIP) and inducted 861 PGTs in August under this policy, making a promise that no new PGT would go unpaid. Of them, 602 were inducted at level one, 186 at level three and 73 for training in MD/MS programme. But of the fresh PGTs, the official said, over 500 had not been paid so far, sending a wave of anguish among them.
Nearly 400 old PGTs are also working without stipend for the last one year or so.
According to the health department’s laid-down policy, the PG Training is a full-time residential job and a PG is regarded as a backbone of any medical institution in providing standard treatment to the patients.
The official said that instead of realizing their services, worries and presence at the institute for providing uninterrupted healthcare, the enforcement of strict rules and regulations shocked the unpaid medics.
It was evident from an official letter issued by the principal of Services Institute of Medical Sciences Lahore.
The letter said the institute offered appointment to 45 medics as PGT at the Services Hospital and inducted 45 students for the training in August, this year.
“The PG training is a full-time residential job but he/she shall not be provided official accommodation during the period of training,” the letter read.
However, non-furnished room on single or shared basis shall be provided to the PG trainee, subject to payment of utility charges/room rent and availability in the hospital, it added.
“Is this justified that the health department is introducing tough rules and policies to make the PGTs accountable but at the same time refusing them stipend?” asked a female postgraduate trainee. She said being member of a middle-class family she had joined this profession with high hopes of getting a smart job.
“Can you imagine I work 12 hours daily in my ward? There is no such precedence in the world of getting services unpaid from a qualified professional in five to seven years training,” she lamented.
Almost same situation was being depicted at the Jinnah Hospital where PGTs are crying for pay.
The official said there are almost 293 PGTs doing work without stipend at this medical institution. Of them, he said, 213 were old and others newly inducted under CIP in August.
At Mayo Hospital, he said 110 PGTs are unpaid while many are also working at Lahore General Hospital without stipend.
Talking about this emerging challenge, a spokesman for the Young Doctors Association Punjab, said one of the major factors behind this disturbing situation was a lack of uniform policy to splash PGT paid slots to the state-run hospitals. He claimed the surplus induction of PG trainees against available paid slots by some medical institutions in the past had also added problems.
“The health department should come up with a concrete proposal to ensure pay to every PGT,” the YDA spokesman said, adding the association would take up the issue with the authorities concerned in the interest of the young health professionals.
A spokesman for the health department said that while scrutinising the data for vacancy positions of the PGTs, the department came to know that the medical institutions of Punjab had inducted 580 unpaid medics for the training. He said the hiring of unpaid PGTs by the teaching hospitals in such a large number had created a lot of confusion.
Consequently, the health department after taking into confidence all the stakeholders planned new induction under Central Induction Policy in August against 1,100 seats.
The spokesman said after detailed deliberations the department had decided to give priority to the old 580 unpaid PGTs to give them stipend. The newly appointed PGTs will have to work unpaid until their all old colleagues get pay, he said and added that the newly-inducted unpaid postgraduate trainees would be accommodated at the later stage.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2016