LAHORE - Patients suffer after suspension of Patients’ Welfare Society at Lady Willingdon Hospital which used to spend around Rs0.6 to Rs0.8 million on dispensing free medicines in a month.

The recent development has ultimately landed the poor patients in trouble at the government-run health facility whose head wanted to control the affairs of the charity organisation run by philanthropists.

On the complaint of LWH Medical Superintendent Dr Zafar Yousuf, the Social Welfare Department has suspended the welfare body after formal inquiry though without evolving any mechanism to take care of the poor patients who cannot afford to buy medicines.

“Most of the medicines prescribed by duty doctors are not available at the hospital pharmacy. Prior to the suspension, office bearers of PWS were providing such medicines. Now the situation is otherwise,” a senior doctor told The Nation, conditioning anonymity.

He said though three-member interim committee headed by Dr Ather Naqashbandi has been formed, it did not exist at the hospital.

“How the committee will generate resources to cover shortage of medicines at the hospital is a big question. We cannot do anything except asking attendants to purchase medicines from the market,” the doctor added.

Besides dispensing free medicines, the PWS was carrying out multidimensional tasks from improvement of infrastructure to provision of costly equipment - injectable and disposable - for surgeries.

The tug of war started between the PWS and MS about three years back that ultimately caused suspension of the body couple of days ago.

The MS forwarded a complaint to the Secretary Social Welfare Department about one year back, alleging lack of audit and misappropriation in funds of PWS.

As per the hospital doctors, the medical superintendent was not happy with the working of PWS. In other institutions, the MS is head of the PWS. But at Lady Willingdon Hospital, the PWS is solely run by office bearers elected for two year tenure. The hospital administration can only identify projects and forward request to the PWS for implementation.

“It was not acceptable for the MS who wanted full control from identification to execution of projects,” said another senior doctor at the hospital.

As per the insiders, Dr Zafar Yousaf is so influential that he has been working at the same institution from medical officer to the MS.

Last year, even powerful Secretary Health Jawad Rafiq Malik succumbed to external pressure and withdrew transfer orders of MS Dr Zafar Yousaf. Punjab Health Department had transferred Dr Yousaf and directed him to report to the department on January 14, 2015.

The MS refused to relinquish the charge and asked his successor (Dr Muhammad Rafiq) that the orders would be withdrawn within 2-3 days.

Dr Zafar Yousaf, an anaesthetist working at the same institution for many years, used his links in the ruling elite to force a mighty bureaucrat to withdraw earlier issued notification on January 20, 2016, the insiders added.