LAHORE - Both the Punjab government and the protesting Young Doctors Association (YDA) on Tuesday stuck to their guns over the issue of salary package.

“A BPS-17 doctor is getting health professional allowance of Rs15,000, which the officer of same scale in other sectors is not entitled. As such, doctors are getting at least Rs15, 000 more than other government employees”, said Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister on Health Kh Salman Rafiq. He added the strike was uncalled-for as the medical community was given due attention by the government.

Young Doctors Association (YDA) Punjab representatives Dr Mudassar Khan and Dr Khuzaima claimed that ads regarding their salaries were misleading and the association would call off its strike provided the government gave the doctors widely-advertised package.

“Take home salary of a BPS-17 doctor is Rs44,000 while according to the government ads, it is up to Rs60,000. We will call off strike if the government ensures our salaries according to the ads,” Dr Khuzaima said. “A medical graduate and qualified doctor should be paid enough to stay in the country. Doctors were hunting for opportunities abroad due to wrong policies of the government.”

Kh Salman Rafiq said the health professional allowance had been given to facilitate doctors. He said that the doctors were demanding direct induction into BPS-18, which was unjustified. He said the government had created vacancies in BPS-18 that would ultimately benefit doctors. He said 1,600 doctors would be promoted to the next scale in the coming six months.

He said 327 jobs of senior registrars had been created that would benefit young doctors. He said the government had already been spending a major chunk of health budget on non-developmental expenditures and it was out of question to spend staggering amount on raising doctors’ salary package. For the past 14 days, the YDA has been on strike to press for their demands, adding to patients’ woes. The Punjab government has acquired the services of doctors from the Army Medical Corps.

The government has also issued recruitment notification of 454 WMOs and posted them to different hospitals of the province.