Islamabad - The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday directed Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Hospital to open the Bone Marrow Transplant Centre (BMTC) immediately.  In order to regularize the posts, the top court also directed federal government to make appointments in the Centre through a competitive exam.

The top court, however, ruled that the incumbent staff in the centre shall be restored unless new appointments are made through Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC). The top court further directed Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) to release the outstanding salaries of 12 employees including doctors, nurses and other supportive staff of the centre.

The directions were issued by a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar after hearing Suo Moto Case on closure of BMTC at PIMS.

On March 29, chief justice took notice application by parents of the children receiving treatment at BMTC at PIMS. The BMTC was initiated in collaboration with Italian Consultant Professor Lawrence Faulkner and Joint Executive Director Children Hospital at PIMS Dr. Raja Amjad Mehmood in September 2008.

A number of doctors, nurses and other supporting staff were inducted through competitive process after due advertisement test and interview by the departmental Selection Committee (DSC).

During the course of hearing, only one issue was narrated to the bench that the BMTC at PIMS was closed on account of non appointment or regularizing of 12-employees.

Dr. Amjad informed the top court that the issue has started from deputations and repatriations in PIMS adding there is legal lacuna due to which the two doctors and one nurse could not be regularized.

He further stated that funds have already been available while three qualified employees Dr. Itrat, Dr. Tatheer and Nurse Suleman are specialized.

“In the absence of skilled and trained staff in the field, continuing the transplants will not be possible because a single transplant needs almost 1 to 2 years of close supervision and follow-ups with trained BMT doctors,” he said adding that patient cannot be started with transplant process and cannot run this skilled super specialty.

The consequence of loosing this staff will be paid by the patient in the form of financial burden incurred by private set ups costing Rs. 3 million for BMT, he said.

“The Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) is a super-speciality. Highly skilled and specialty trained staff is required for BMT. At present 12 employees including doctors, nurses and supporting staff are working in BMT Unit at PIMS and without their presence, services of BMT cannot be continued for the Bone Marrow Patients,” said Joint Executive Director of project Dr. Amjad.

He contended that currently PIMS Bone Marrow Transplant Unit has completed 130 transplants successfully and more than 500 prepared patients are on waiting list adding more than 2500 patients registered in Thalassemia Centre are receiving supportive treatment and preparations for BMT Centre PIMS.

He said that not only more than 100 patients are in follow ups after completing their BMT but success rate at PIMS BMTC is comparable to international success rate which is above 85% adding that the facility of Saray (Lodging facility) is provided free of cost to incoming patients for BMT after discharge from Transplant unit for close monitoring of post transplant patients.

Regarding availability of funds, he said that PC-1 titled ‘establishment of Bone Marrow Transplant at PIMS’ worth Rs. 43.33 million was approved and staff of BMT was taken on contract for the project posts. Now the project has been completed on June 30, 2017 and the PSDP posts have been converted to the regular budget, he said.

Dr. Amjad said that around 13 letters has been written to CADD but no action was taken despite efforts.

Representative of CADD informed the bench that the employees were appointed for the project on contract basis. Justice Ijazul Ahsan, another member of the bench, responded CADD saying if a sector should be closed once the project is finished adding that this staff was especially trained for transplant purpose and such employees could hardly be found in market.

“I know nothing except opening of Bone Marrow Transplant Centre (BMTC) by 4:30pm,” Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar however observed. 

Should this be done by the court or is it the job of executive, chief justice further observed on regularization and appointment of employees.

Chief justice then told Additional Attorney General (AAG) Amir Rehman that the latter had been part of the team in structuring the PIMS but what steps has been taken by the latter.   He further observed, “Then ‘people’ say that judiciary should not intervene,” adding that if the government does its work accordingly, the judiciary may not have to intervene.

The parents’ letter addressing to chief justice had stated that bone marrow transplant is the only cure available to children with thalassaemia major and around 500 children are on the waiting list for transplants.

It had further stated that doctors, nurses and staff at the centre have not been paid their salaries since July 2017 and they have now been told that their contracts will not be extended owing to administrative issues.

“The transplant at a private hospital costs around Rs.3 million, it costs Rs1m at the PIMS of which Rs.0.6 million are donated by Pakistan Baitul Mal. Application also asserted that there is apprehension of closure of the Cardiac Centre, while the liver transplant unit at PIMS has already been closed and the same is apparently for the benefit of private hospitals that are charging for more than the average citizen can afford,” it added.