Public sector doctors: ‘Pay demands met but service issues remain’

Category: Health

YDA Punjab chapter led a strike at the city’s major public hospitals for over a month earlier this year.

YDA Young Doctors Punjab Protest Rally

LAHORE: (May 10, 2011): Punjab government announced a Rs5.2 billion pay package for public sector doctors on Monday that was met with tentative approval by the Young Doctors Association (YDA), though certain issues remain pending between the two.
senior Advisor Sirdar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa, announcing the details of the package, said he hoped that it would convince the doctors to retrain their focus on saving lives and away from protest activities.
The YDA Punjab chapter led a strike at the city’s major public hospitals for over a month earlier this year to press their demands for higher pay. They called off the strike after the chief minister agreed to set up a committee to consider their pay demands. Khosa said that the pay package was based on the committee’s recommendations.
YDA Punjab spokesman Dr Aftab Ashraf said the government had met the doctors’ demands for pay rises, but not resolved promotion issues.
He said that the cabinet committee had pledged that the government would promote all doctors from their present grade to the next grade along with a Rs10,000 allowance. However, the government had now sanctioned the allowance but not agreed to promote them, he said.
He said that the committee had also agreed to upgrade the post of medical officer (MO) from BPS-17 to BPS-18, since doctors required 18 years of education to become MOs. The upgrade of the post has not been announced in the package, he said.
Dr Aftab said that the YDA Punjab’s general council would meet on Tuesday, after the YDA’s All Punjab Health Convocation in Bahawalpur, to discuss the package.
Under the package, house officers will get a stipend of Rs24,000, up from Rs18,000 before. Post-graduate students will get a Rs22,500 increase in their stipends, which will now be Rs42,000 per month. Medical officers and dental surgeons of grade 17 will get a Rs15,000 raise in their salaries and Rs3,370 per month as pay protection. Doctors serving in grades 18, 19 and 20 will get a raise of Rs10,000.
For paramedics, the package includes Rs376 million for the promotion of paramedical staff under a four-tier formula. Another Rs239 million will be spent on pay protection of nurses.
Khosa said that the increased pay would result in spending on healthcare going up from Rs13 billion to Rs38 billion in the next three years.
He said that a special cell had been set up in the Health Department to clear doctors’ pending promotion cases. A special committee had also been set up to consider revisions to the service structures of doctors and paramedics, he added.
Officials of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) welcomed the Punjab government’s announcement, saying the package agreed under considerable financial constraints was “a serious and positive step”.
The officials, including Dr Tanveer Anwar and Dr Salman Kazmi, said that the PMA was working with the Punjab government to bring the doctors out of the national pay scale. They hoped that the PMA would soon be able to come up with a package similar to the one recently announced by the federal government.
(Published in “Express Tribune” on May 10, 2011)

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