LAHORE - The Young Doctors Association will take it to the streets across the province including Lahore today (Wednesday) to press for their old demands.

The protest, announced by YDA leadership, would continue during the peak hours to convey a strong message to the government.

Unlike the previous week when doctors blocked major roads outside teaching hospitals in Lahore, young doctors from all health facilities will gather at Services Hospital in the morning from where they will march to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat for staging a sit in for about couple of hours. However, the strategy for other cities will remain the same like the last week.

Protests at hospitals and on roads remained the main strategy of YDA for the last 5-6 years to pressurise the government for accepting their demands - including withdrawal of Central Induction Policy for PG trainees, implementation of agreed service structure, timescale promotion of doctors, improving security at hospitals, provision of free medicines and early completion of ongoing development projects.

The central induction policy for PG trainees triggered recent wave of protests which, however, failed to stop the government from going ahead with the plan of implementing the same. The YDA blames the health bureaucracy of devising a system that is against the interests of doctors doing specialisation in subjects of their choice.

“The government is paying no heed to the legitimate demands. We leave with no other option except to come out on streets for safeguarding rights of doctors and the ailing humanity,” said Dr Khurram Shahzad, Spokesman of YDA Punjab.

“The central induction policy is a great injustice with graduates aspiring post graduation in specialty of choice. There is no criterion of merit. PITB invites applications online and induct trainees in different specialties at hospitals across the province.

“Depriving doctors from post graduation in own chosen specialty is injustice. Though infrastructure is not up to the mark anywhere in the province, it is comparatively better in Lahore. Compelling doctors to go to other cities lacking proper infrastructure will only produce incapable postgraduates,” he added.

The YDA spokesman stressed the government should first establish quality hospitals before sending trainees in other cities. “Extra numbers for serving at primary healthcare centres have literally deprived fresh graduates from doing specialisation. Instead of waiting for three years, the graduates will go for other options including going abroad,” he added.

He further highlighted the government should negotiate with stakeholders instead of implementing the policy unilaterally. The previous procedure of induction of PG trainees through head of institutions was the right option, according the YDA spokesperson.

Referring to other demands, he maintained the government was not implementing already agreed time scale promotion of doctors despite lapse of four years. “Regularisation of ad hoc doctors and posting of PG trainees selected by PPSC as MO/WMO at institutions from where they are getting training are legitimate demands.

“Improper security at hospitals is causing increasing incidents of attendants manhandling doctors. Long duty hours of doctors, less healthcare providers for large number of patients and unavailability of free medicines are hampering service delivery at hospitals,” he added.

Dr Khurram said the government was showing little or even no interest in completing development projects at major hospitals. “Surgical Tower at Mayo Hospital, Wazirabad Institution of Cardiology, Dental Hospital at Jubilee Town and many more such projects are incomplete since long. It shows the level of interest of the government in healthcare initiatives for public at large.”

While YDA blames the government of continuing anti-doctors and anti-patients practice by delaying completion of development projects and not providing free medicines at hospitals, top health officials have termed the allegations baseless, saying objections on central induction policy with workable solutions could be submitted to the technical committee of experts for consideration. “The independent committee is authorised to bring any change in the policy and it will binding for all”, said Secretary Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education Najam Ahmed Shah.

The secretary also denied the allegation that the government was not focusing on merit. “We are aimed at improving the quality of medical education through central induction policy for PG trainees and central admission policy for private medical colleges,” Najam Ahmad Shah said, adding the platform of technical committee was there to address grievances if any.

Officials say the department has appointed Chief Executive at Mayo Hospital who has taken measures to improve security. Also, the work on development projects is underway on fast track and there is no issue of unavailability of medicines at any healthcare facility.