LAHORE: Young Doctors Association (YDA) called for an All Pakistan Doctors Convention, saying that some “unwise friends” had called off the 37-day long doctors’ strike in Punjab just after a single meeting with the Punjab chief minister (CM) and without waiting for a proper announcement of a pay raise for doctors, which had damaged the entire cause of the doctors’ movement.
The YDA central office-bearers said this during a press conference on Tuesday at the Lahore Press Club. Dr Rana Sohail, Dr Salman Kazmi, Dr Talha Sherwani, Dr Ghulam Qasim, Dr Khalid Idrees, Dr Khuda Buksh, Dr Ali, Dr Kamran, Dr Asad, Dr Burhan, Dr Sheikh Bilal,
Dr Wajid Wazir, Dr Khalid Snawan, Dr Ghulam Murtaza, and Dr Hafeez Khan said, “We made the YDA in July 2008 with the objective of working for the welfare of the patients and young doctors, however, a faction of the association had damaged the repute of the medical profession by giving a strike call in the emergency wards.”
The YDA had put forward the demand of a special salary package and had called for a “national movement” to make the government agree to the demand of the special salary package.
The YDA had demanded a special salary package for all cadres of doctors and demanded a raise in the existing salaries, ie, to raise the salary of HO, PG/Mo, SR, AP from 18,000, 22,000, 32,000 to 35,000, 80,000, 150,000, 200,000, 250,000 and 300,000 respectively. “We made these demands so as to put a stop to the current brain drain of the doctors,” the YDA representatives said.
The YDA said that it knew the provincial government was planning to give a few thousand rupees raise in salaries which was in the form of a raise in non-practicing allowance, which was unacceptable for the doctors since it did not address the basic issue of the doctors’ brain drain.
In six months, the doctors would be on streets again, they said. “We approached the other faction of the YDA and requested them to be a part of our strategy. They, however, refused to listen to us and went for an isolated strike in Punjab, the outcome of which is in front of the whole community,” they said. These persons damaged and destroyed our plan of a national movement, the YDA said.
Some principals, professors and political parties used the other faction to fulfil their personal agendas and in the end it was the doctors’ community that suffered, they said, adding, “The movement was a failure just because of a wrong strategy adopted by the leadership.”
The YDA officials further added that they had called an All Pakistan meeting of the doctor’s organisations to reorganise the YDA working in all hospitals.
Separately, using the media as a platform, the YDA put forward some questions to the other faction of the association, such as, “What was achieved after the 37-day strike?”, “Why was the strike called off just after the constitution of a committee for pay raise, which had already been in place?”, “Where is the notification of a pay raise for which the strike was prolonged for 37 days and even emergency wards were closed?”, “Was is not a failure of the YDA leadership that they called off the strike just after a meeting with the CM during which none of their demands had been fulfilled?”, “Why were the senior doctors working in the emergencies abused by YDA?”, and “Why did they refuse to join the YDA when they had initially approached them for a collective strategy for salary package?”
They also asked the reason for recalling the strike after Zulifqar Khosa’s promise of a raise in pay of the HOs and the PGs. Other questions included asking the YDA faction as to why the members were not taken into confidence before the strike. The faction should have called for a meeting before starting the 37-day long strike.