Doctor’s strike: 300,000 patients suffer, 5,000 surgeries were affected

Tariq Ullah

PESHAWAR: Due to doctor’s strike, more than 300,000 patients coming to three major teaching hospitals in Peshawar could not get treatment while more than 5,000 surgeries were affected, resulting in a reduction of 80 percent patients in all three teaching hospitals, which directly benefit private clinics and hospitals.

According to data, the revenue of hospital laboratories, ultrasound, X-rays and other important departments has also decreased by 70 to 80% due to the decline in the influx of patients to the government hospital due doctor’s strike.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has introduced the Regional and District Health Authorities Bill in the Assembly a month ago to reform the health sector. Under the new set up doctors would be public servants instead of civil servants, while powers were given to divisions and districts to transfer doctors to their home districts.

A financial authority has also been made at the divisional level against which class IV health workers, including doctors, paramedics, nurses and IT employees, have started strike at the call of the Grand Health Alliance which is still underway.

The protestors demand that before making any changes to the health sector, all stakeholders should be taken in confidence. Adding that the government is handing over to public hospitals in the name of reforms to the private sector, which will deprive poor people as free health facility will no more be available for them.

Presently, there is a strike of doctors in all the health centres, from BHU to teaching hospitals in the province. OPDs, routine surgeries and other elective services have been suspended. Thousands of patients are forced to return to their homes from the hospital without taking medical treatment. Before the strike, 5,000 patients visited Lady Reading Hospital on daily basis, 3,000 visited Khyber Teaching Hospital and 4,000 patients visited Hayatabad Medical Complex, but now the OPDs of these hospitals have reduced to hardly 100 persons on daily bases.

According to hospitals sources, the LRH used to perform more than 100 surgeries on daily bases, Khyber Teaching Hospital had about 150 while the Hayatabad Medical Complex had more than 200 minor surgeries which are more possible due to the strike.

The number of patients in private hospitals and clinics has also increased, as patients waiting in the public hospital’s OPD are forced to move to private hospitals and clinics where doctors and laboratories are robbing them with both hands. During these 30 days, the government has not taken any tangible efforts to make the doctors end the strike. The provincial government has made it clear several times that new doctors and other staff will be recruited from the market by taking action against the striking employees, but no practical steps have been taken so far.