LAHORE     -   The Grand Health Alliance (GHA) has called off strike in compliance with Lahore High Court order.

Addressing a press conference at Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) late Thursday, GHA Chairman Dr Salman Haseeb announced resuming duties at all departments of public sector hospitals from Friday (today). Patients were the ultimate sufferers of four-week boycott of doctors across the province.

“Doctors, nurses and paramedical staff will resume services after the LHC formed a judicial committee to oversee negotiations,” Dr Salman said.

“We respect the honorable court’s order and therefore announce calling off strike. On the other hand, Punjab government continues to victimise the protesting doctors, nurses and other medical staff in contravention to LHC orders in this regard,” he added.

“We will give our recommendations for improving service delivery in hospitals and expect Punjab government to withdraw its orders of victimisation of doctors, nurses and medical staff forthwith,” he said.

Earlier, crisis in public sector hospitals deepened due to Punjab government’s punitive action against protesters. High-powered committee met with GHA leaders but the talks remained inconclusive as both the sides stuck to their stance on Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Act, 2019.

The Specialized Healthcare and Medical Education (SHC&ME) Department has terminated Dr Qasim Ali, President Young Doctors Association (YDA), Punjab, serving as Medical Officer at Punjab Institute of Neurosciences (PINS), on account of misconduct immediately. It has also written a letter to College of Physicians and Surgeons Pakistan (CPSP) to take action under regulations against Dr Salman Haseeb, Chairman GHA and PG trainee from SIMS/SHL, among three others, for participating in the strike and instigating others. The SHC&ME recommendations regarding punitive action to CPSP regarding other three PG trainees includes Dr Aqib Javed, AIMC/JHL, Dr Amar Yousaf, AMC/LGH, and Dr Bilal Pasha, Mayo Hospital.

Moreover, the department, under Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability (PEEDA) Act 2006, found three doctors and four nurses of Jinnah Hospital guilty of misconduct and negligence. Three MOs including Dr Zahid Sarfraz, Dr Muhammad Muzammil Aslam Khtaria and Dr Javed Iqbal Raheel and four nurses including Sobia Ishaque, Farhat, Zahida Hussain and Nusrat are found involved in campaigning and observance of strikes at their respective hospitals.

Meanwhile, Medical Teachers Association (MTA), SIMS/SHL chapter, in its meeting held under the chairmanship of President Prof Muhammad Amjad here on Thursday, expressed grave concern over present crisis in teaching institutions and offered cooperation to help resolve the issue.

It was of the view that MTI Act must be implemented gradually in consultation and agreement of all the stakeholders. It also observed that CPSP must not be dragged into dirty politics.

It urged the government to make all medical teaching institutions revive MTAs in their institutions.

The four-week boycott by doctors and medical staff in indoor wards, outdoor wards, operation theatres and central laboratories multiplied the miseries of patients. New admissions to indoor wards are also being denied to the poor patients due to closure of OPDs.

Thousands of patients are being deprived of treatment of minor operations, consultation, diagnosis and treatment of their ailments and injuries on a daily basis, while the worst hit were those who had been traveling from far-off districts to reach the mega teaching institutions only to be disappointed due to lack of healthcare services.

However, an extraordinary rush of patients has been witnessed in emergency wards of all hospitals, where consultation services are also being offered to OPD patients. The patients have to go to the private hospitals for elective procedures, which puts extra financial burden on their pockets.