ISLAMABAD - The employees of three public sector hospitals rejecting the proposed bill that, according to them, will deprive them of their civil servant rights and convert the hospitals into autonomous bodies, have demanded that the proposed bill should be withdrawn.According to them, the government is expected to table Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University (SZABMU) Bill 2013 in the Lower House in the upcoming session that has been drafted in haste and without taking on board the stakeholders.Hundreds of employees of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), Polyclinic Hospital and National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine (Nirm) held a demonstration at Pims Saturday. Outpatient departments of Pims remained shut as the employees went on to token strike. According to officials nearly 4000 patients visit OPDs daily. Healthcare activities were also affected partially at Polyclinic and Nirm as the employees were participating in the demonstration at Pims.     The protesting employees feared that with the passage of the bill all the perks and privileges they are entitled to being government servants would be withdrawn and they will not be entitled to free medical facilities in future. Besides, the general public will also be deprived of cheap healthcare facilities. They also expressed their reservation on renaming of the Quaid-I-Azam Postgraduate Medical College that is being upgraded as a medical university and will be renamed as Shaheed Zulfikar Bhutto Medical University if the bill sails through the parliament.  Joint action committee of Pims employees’ chairman Manzar Naqvi said they are not against the bill and parliament has every right to legislate but a non-technical committee has drafted the bill without taking into confidence stakeholders. And reservations of Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the faculty of Pims including professors, consultants and head departments were also not addressed regarding bill.  The bill has been approved by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee headed by MNA Jamshed Dasti in haste when majority of the committee’s members were not present it was approved.Raja Ilyas, chairman of joint action committee of Polyclinic employees informed the employees had protested for 34 days last year against the Health Personnel Scale (HPS) as the government was going to snatch the civil servant rights from the hospital employees but again the government is bent upon privatizing public sector hospitals that will deprive the employees from free medical facilities. He was of the view that all the hospital will be affiliated with the university and the incumbent Pims ED DR. Riaz Warriach will be appointed as vice chancellor of the university. He alleged that all this has been planned by the government to give favours to few officials.   The employees also demanded the reinstatement of Pims joint action committee chairman Manzar Naqvi who was suspended by the executive director. The ED and Additional Secretary of Ministry of Capital Administration and Development ensured the employees during the protest that his suspension orders will be withdrawn.  Pims ED could not be reached for comments. 

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 17-Feb-2013 here.