LAHORE - Ad hoc nurses continued protest on the fifth day and staged a sit in outside Punjab Assembly on Saturday, hindering provision of health facilities besides causing postponement of hundreds of scheduled and emergency surgeries at major hospitals.

Though nurses split on the government offer of appointment on contract for three years and regularisation in service after the lapse of that period, a faction of determined ladies vowed to continue protest. Nurses protest at Faisal Chowk caused worst traffic jam on The Mall and adjoining roads throughout the day.

With nurses from other cities leaving work and staging demonstrations to express solidarity with their colleagues protesting in Lahore, patients suffered a lot as this hampered service delivery at public sector hospitals across the country.

Nurses from different hospitals in Punjab, Khyber PK and Balochistan held demonstration in several cities including Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Sheikhupura, Faisalabad, Multan, Bhakkar, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Vehari, Rahim Yar khan staged demonstration to protest against manhandling of their colleagues in Lahore.

Starting from daylong protest outside Lahore Press Club five days back, the protesting nurses changed the venue and staged sit in at Egerton Road and later marched to The Mall last day that resulted into their severe thrashing at the hands of police.

Unlike the last day when the Police thrashed nurses for coming on The Mall, the protesting ladies were allowed to stage a sit in outside Punjab Assembly. Closure of Faisal Chowk and Shareey Fatima Jinnah from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital to The Mall caused diversion of traffic on adjoining roads that led to massive traffic jam throughout the day. Like the previous day, not only cars and motorcycles but also ambulances were stuck in traffic jam for hours.

Besides representatives of opposition parties including Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Pakistan Peoples Party, Labour Party and Jamaat-e-Islami, members of civil society organizations, delegations of Young Doctors Association and Punjab Paramedics Alliance reached the venue to express solidarity with protesting nurses.

YDA Punjab announced to perform duties while wearing black ribbons on arms from Monday if the government paid no heed to the legitimate demands of protesting nurses. Office bearers of YDA including Dr Javed Aheer, Dr Amer Bandesha, Dr Aftab, Dr Adnan, Dr Umar and others said that future course of action would be decided in the next General Council meeting. They said that the YDA also wanted to join nurses in protest but they were avoiding this for the sake of ailing humanity. They said that the protest was hampering service delivery at hospitals but the government was taking no interest to resolve the issue.

Advisor to Chief Minister on Health Kh Salman Rafiq, Parliamentary Secretary Health Kh Imran Nazir and Secretary Health Babar Hayat Tarar held unsuccessful negotiations with the leadership of protesting nurses in the evening. They offered contract for another three years and regularization in service after lapse of that period. Nurses remained stick to their core demands of immediate regularization of their jobs.