ISLAMABAD   -    The doctors, nurses and para-medical staff of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) on Friday called off their ongoing strike on assurance of Minister for National Health Services to address their concerns on proposed draft of legislation.

“Arising from this assurance the ongoing strike that we have embarked upon is hereby suspended. This is to show our trust on the assurance of the minister on our concerns about the certain amendments in legislation related to the hospital,” head of employees’ action committee PIMS Dr Asfandyar announced this at gathering of protesters.

Minister for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, Aamer Mehmood Kiani said, “We have looked at these issues and through the process we have able to come to conclusion with the representatives of protesters. Now the dispute has been resolved.”

He said that the government was well aware of the issues of the doctors, medical and non-medical staff of PIMS.

He assured that the government will not take decision about the legislation without taking inputs from the representatives of hospital staff. He said that the government would get suggestions from them and make it part of that legislation.

He made it clear that presently only draft of the legislation has been approved and the final legislation would be made after satisfying the PIMS employees.

He said that a five-member-committee representing the PIMS employees will have meeting with him to resolve all matters. He said that the government would address all genuine issues of the PIMS employees.

The minister also announced to reverse the suspension orders of some PIMS employees.

He said that the government was committed to ensure best medical care to the patients at all public sector hospitals and said that the role of doctors, nurses and para medical staff was important in this regard.

He said that more funds were being allocated to improve the standard of healthcare delivery system. He said that more facilities were being provided to federal capital major hospitals including PIMS to satisfy the patients.

Talking to media persons, Dr Asfandyar said that the strike was suspended due to mutual understanding reached between the representatives of PIMS employees and the minister. “We have reached an understanding after a lengthy deliberation which started one day back.”

He said, “We were able to reach an understanding and the employees have agreed to call off strike, which is being implemented.” He said that the minister has accepted all demands of the employees and assured full support to meet the genuine demands of the PIMS employees.

Dr Asfandyar expressed optimism that the demands of the employees would be met in coming days as agreed upon by the two parties regarding the decision of running the affairs of the hospital under board of governors.

It is pertinent to mention here that the employees of PIMS had proceeded on an indefinite strike a week back at hospital, in favour of their demands.

The minister addressing employees on protest announced that there was a ‘misunderstanding’ created that new ordinance has been passed, while it is only under consideration yet.

Minister assured employees that their rights of services will be not damaged in the newly proposed ordinance while the representation of the hospital will be included in new legislation.

He said that the five-member committee representing all staff of the PIMS will be notified and part in preparing the ordinance of the hospital.

“We will work on ordinance taking its employees on board,” said minister.

He also said that the government will immediately withdraw the notifications of suspending two officials of the PIMS.

Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiyani also said that the new ordinance will not harm the service structure of the PIMS employees and the new system is being introduced to revamp the structure.

Late on, president PIMS employees association Dr Asfandyar Khan announced ending the protest and opening Outdoor Patients Department (OPD) after the minister’s address.

Talking to The Nation Dr Asfandyar Khan said that minister has shown his full commitment that new ordinance will not harm the civil servant status of the hospital employees.

He said that the government has committed that reforms will not convert the hospital into a private entity and services of the employees will be protected.

He said that the minister has conveyed that the reforms will be done following the civil services rules of 1973 and five members committee from PIMS will be on board while preparing the new ordinance. 

PIMS employees remained on protest for a week suspending OPD services for two hours since the government announced drafting a new ordinance for the government.

In new ordinance, it was proposed that the hospital will be given under the administrative control of the Board of Governors (BOG) and make an autonomous institution instead of working under the ministry of health.

Meanwhile, patients’ faces difficulties at the hospital as the entire staff went on strike at OPD.  All departments were locked while patients kept waiting for staff and doctors for the medical examination. 

The minister faced the similar reaction by the Pims employees for the second time during the ongoing protest at Pims, which was initiated by all associations of Pims opposing the proposed ordinance to make hospital an autonomous body.

However, after the minister’s address, a fraction of crowd not satisfied with the minister’s commitments made with them hooted on the minister and he had to leave the venue in haste.

“It’s a betrayal,” people from the crowd enchanted at an audible level.

“It’s not what we demanded from the government,” few more sloganeered.

The federal minister said he will listen to the grievance of each individual and take him on board before taking any decision on PIMS hospital.

The minister had also faced hooting by PIMS employees earlier when he reached to hold talks with them regarding the administrative future of the hospital. The administration had suspended the staff member on his misbehavior during the meeting with the minister.

Interestingly, while the minister was addressing the PIMS employees on the protest outside the administration block, the Executive Director (ED) PIMS, Dr Amjad Mehmmod was not present with him.

Sources said that the employees on protest had refused to welcome the ED and hinted of the protest if he joined the minister in the protest.

ED taking disciplinary action against employees during protest had suspended two staff members, who raised objections vocally against the proposed ordinance of PIMS.