Turning a blind eye to patients misery and the government’s warning of taking a stern action against them, the doctors amid a crippling strike in all health facilities across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) continued the boycott of their duties in outpatient departments (OPDs) for the fifth consecutive day on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the protesting doctors have refused to enter talks with the provincial government until their demands, including withdrawal of decision of privatisation of healthcare units and removal of National Health Task Force head Prof Nausherwan Burki from his position.

Patients have been undergoing severe difficulties and criticised doctors and government for the standoff and blamed their misery on both.

On Tuesday, the situation worsened when all OPD services in all major hospitals all over the province were closed due to the doctors’ protest following a brawl between a senior doctor and the provincial minister health and his guards in the Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH).

Doctors boycotted their duties after health minister Hisham Inamullah Khan allegedly beat up Dr Ziauddin Afridi, the assistant professor of Khyber Teaching Hospital, with the help of guards and policemen after the latter threw eggs at National Health Task Force head Prof Nausherwan Burki for being denied promotion.

On Friday, KP government spokesman Shaukat Yousafzai, addressed a presser, and said the government had decided to resume the OPD service from Saturday.

Yousafzai stated that OPDs will open at any cost and anyone creating hurdles would be dealt with an iron hand.

“A handful of doctors want to sabotage health reforms introduced in the province by the PTI government,” he added.

Earlier, Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan and Dr Nausherwan Khan Burki had also visited the hospital while doctors chanted full throat slogans in favour of their demands.

On Saturday, scores of members of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) gathered in the largest health facility of the province, the Lady Reading Hospital and chanted slogans against the Health Minister Hisham and demanded his resignation. They had also demanded the resignation of Dr Burki.

The association also denounced the departmental inquiry launched against senior doctors and demanded that the first information report (FIR) registered against doctors must be withdrawn. Further, they demanded that an FIR must be lodged against the health minister for brutally assaulting a senior doctor in the halls of KTH.

Moreover, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan took notice of the incident and summoned a report and ordered an immediate inquiry. The CM further directed to take strict action against the culprits.