LAHORE - The Young Consultants Association (YCA) Wednesday called upon the government to amend the recently-promulgated Punjab Medical Teaching Institutions (Reforms) Ordinance 2019 after consultations with all stakeholders instead of waiting for protests.

The government promulgated the ordinance in a bid to run off resistance from number-strong opposition in the Punjab Assembly and the medics. Moments after the move, the Young Doctors Association (YDA) and Grand Health Alliance (GHA) called an emergency press conference to share their reservations about the act.

YCA President Dr Hamid Butt yesterday chaired a meeting at Lahore General Hospital and constituted a three-member committee for consulting other stakeholders, including YDA, PMA, paramedics and nurses, to devise a joint strategy.

Following the meeting, they released a joint communiqué, saying: The government move was contrary to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s health reforms vision.

The communiqué reads:  “The promulgation of an ordinance, instead of adopting the set procedure of legislation shows that the government lacked support on the matter. There are contradictions and mistakes in the ordinance.

“Contrary to the government claims, there is no mechanism of giving reward for good performance. Any employee can be sent home with a single stroke of pen and there is no room for appeal.

“Healthcare providers will be no more public servants. Due to lack of job security, thousands of doctors have already gone abroad and the ordinance has nothing to do with welfare agenda. It would just hasten the process of brain drain.

“We are already facing shortage of faculty and as such could not afford such misadventure. Government should improve existing infrastructure in the larger interests of the ailing humanity.”

As a precaution, the government banned all sorts of political activities, gatherings in hospitals/educational institutions.

In a letter to vice chancellors of medical universities, principals of autonomous medical colleges, heads of specializsd healthcare institutions and medical superintendents of teaching hospitals, the Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Department has directed concrete measures for ensuring un-interrupted healthcare service delivery.

“Some troublemakers in the hospitals are trying to disrupt provision of healthcare services delivery to the patients by using unfair means. This situation is intolerable. Keeping it in view, the Competent Authority further passed the directions to ban protests and rallies by any forum working in hospitals/educational institutions and ban on displaying anti-government banners, posters and other means”, the letter reads.

Medics bodies have rejected the ordinance, terming it anti-patients. Addressing a press conference at Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), YDA President Dr Qasim Awan condemned government’s attempt to enforce a law, which has already been rejected by all professional medical bodies as anti-patients and anti-doctors legislation.

Flanked by YDA General Secretary Dr Salman Haseeb, GHA representatives Hafiz Dilawar and Aashiq Ghaus, he termed it a big injustice to run public hospitals, established on public’s tax money, in a private manner. YDA representatives from PIC, Services Hospital, Mayo Hospital, Jinnah Hospital, Lahore General Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, nurses and paramedics were also present. YDA and GHA leadership vowed to resist the implementation of ‘black law’.

 “The government has stripped thousands of doctors, nurses, paramedics and allied health professionals of their civil servant status with a stroke of pen,” they said, adding, the government had privatized the healthcare services, which will deprive the poor patients of their basic right to health free of cost.

“Majority of population does not afford private treatment therefore the new law will tantamount to giving death sentence to poor patients,” they added. They announced holding GHA Punjab’s meeting on September 5 and also convene YDA Punjab’s central and general council meeting on September 6 with options to besiege Governor’s House and Punjab Assembly to put pressure on government to withdraw the ordinance. They also announced starting a full-scale province-wide protest movement after Ashura, and also take the legal route to stop implementation of this anti-patient law.