ISLAMABAD-A token strike at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences by hospital employees on Tuesday increased miseries of the patients who visited the facility from far flung areas seeking healthcare.

The PIMS employees started two hours strike at the hospital, shutting down the OPD in order to record protest against government for converting the public-sector hospital into a Medical Teaching Institute.

As per officials of the hospital, around 7,000 patients daily visited the OPD and unavailability of the services increased problems of the patients.

The Nation observed long queues of patients at OPD waiting to get slips to be examined by the relevant medical professionals, however; issuing of slips remained suspended from 8 am to 10 am.

Situation was similar outside the social welfare department where poor patients availing healthcare from Bait-ul-Mal expenses seek healthcare. Along with these two departments, patients had to wait in lines outside the pathology lab also to get their reports.

Sameena Bibi, a patient outside the locked social welfare department told The Nation that she came from Barakahu area on public transport to get diabetes medicines. “But everything is locked here due to strike,” she said.

She added that patients were running from pillar to post to get healthcare while the health professionals are observing strike.

Similarly Hamza brought his ailing cousin for examination at urology department but was disappointed viewing the situation at the hospital.

“Already patients have to queue in line to get the token and today there is strike,” he said.

He said that hospital employees had time to conduct strikes and protest but they were not available for medical check-up of patients.

As patients were standing in miserable situation and waiting for the strike to end, a political personality was delivering speech against the MTI at the hospital.

All PIMS Employees Association members gathered outside and inside the administration block and vowed continuing their protest until the government withdraw the reforms act bill, under which the hospital will be run by a board of governors.

Addressing the gathering, Jamaat Islami leader Mian Aslam said that his party supported the demands of PIMS employees and they must remain united in their rows.

He said that no government will be allowed turning public hospital into a private health facility which will deprive patients from free healthcare.

Earlier, PIMS employees in their protest held on Saturday had also invited Juamiat Ulma- e-Islam (JUI-F) leader Maulana Abdul-Ghafoor Haidri to seek his support.

Meanwhile, patients at hospital also held a protest against hospital administration for not providing health services and observing strike at hospital.

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad had also visited the hospital after the patients’ protest and examined children hospital on complaints regarding non-availability of doctors.

Spokesperson PIMS Dr Waseem Khawaja said that hospital OPDs including children were also closed for two hours, but the emergency remained functional.

He said that strike in hospital was being observed for two hours, but indeed patients’ sufferings were increasing as they had to wait for two hours.

Spokesperson ministry of National Health Services Sajid Shah said that the ministry was looking into the matter and hopefully the strikes will end soon.