Chaos at PIMS intensifies as BoG nomination of outgoing ED imperils patient care

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Islamabad : The Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Executive Director Dr. Ansar Maxood, who retired from service Thursday only to reassume charge as the hospital’s new Director under the Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) Ordinance, will face stiff resistance today (Friday) from protesting employees of PIMS, who are determined not to allow the ‘traitor ED’ to enter the hospital premises, leave alone take charge of office.

The employees of PIMS observed Salvation Day on Thursday to ‘celebrate’ the exit of the sitting ED who, they believe, ‘sold PIMS for his personal interests.’ The protestors publicly vowed not to allow him to sit in the ED’s office, where he is set to assume charge as Director under MTI. “We will celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow (Friday),” the Federal Grand Health Alliance’s Chairman Dr. Asfandyar stated. The Vice President of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) PIMS Dr. Tariq Khan said, “We will not allow Dr. Ansar to even pass by PIMS. He has become the most hated personality among young doctors.”

Dr. Ansar’s appointment as Director is mired in controversy, also because he does not possess the credentials laid out for the position under clause 11 of the MTI Ordinance. The Director should have a Masters degree in hospital management, should be a medical doctor, and should not be doing private practice—Dr. Ansar lacks all. He is a practicing dentist with no hospital management training or qualification whatsoever. “It is decisions like these that make the government’s hospital reforms agenda appear politically motivated,” a senior consultant stated.

Today is a crucial day because the 60-day deadline that the government had given for PIMS employees to either accept MTI (and serve under the MTI-constituted Board of Governors) or to remain civil servants of the federal government, has also lapsed. Ironically, the government is yet to take the required steps formalizing its claimed “hospital reforms agenda.” Options have not been sought from employees, nor have the hospital’s management and financial authorities been defined thus far.

The government has also failed to notify the Federal MTI Tribunal required under the MTI Ordinance. This tribunal is required to replace the Federal Services Tribunal (FST) for employees of MTI. On another serious note, the staff of the Children’s Hospital at PIMS also withdrew medical services from child patients, effective Thursday evening.

Once the capital’s apex healthcare providing institution, PIMS presents a picture of complete disarray. The sanctity of both the institution, as well as its employees, has severely been compromised owing to unwarranted delay in reaching a mutually acceptable formula for implementation of the new legislation, which PIMS employees believe, violates their civil servant rights and privileges and will lead to the hospital’s virtual privatization.

It has been 7 weeks now since the hospital turned into a protest ground. No conflict resolution mechanism is in place even after two months of promulgation of the Ordinance, and 45 days of strike at the hospital.

Earlier in the day, senior consultants and professors of PIMS convened a meeting and then converged at the protest ground, pledging not to show any flexibility in their demands. Prof. Dr. Amjad Chaudhry, Prof. Zahoor Rana, Prof. S H Waqar, Prof. Shajee Sidiquee, Prof. Maqbool, Prof. Atif Shami, Dr. Tariq Abdullah, Dr. Ali Shami, Dr. Shifaat Khatoon, Dr. Mehboob-ur-Rehman, Dr. Sajid Shah, Dr. Ahmareen, Dr. Burhan, Dr. Tashfeen, Dr. Shahab, Dr. Sana Sharafat, Dr. Raheem Memon, among others, participated in the protest.

Dr. Asfandyar Khan promised implementation of all FGHA announcements. “There will be a sit-in on January 18. I am confident that the government will have to withdraw this Ordinance,” he said. Spokesperson Dr. Hyder lamented the government’s indifference to their demands and criticized it for passing provoking remarks on the media. “We have tried to avoid a clash but there is no option left now,” he maintained. Riaz Gujjar, Arshad Khan, Sister Naila Jesi, Sister Saadia Basheer, Sharif Khattak, Liaquat Ogahi, Tariq Mattu, Tanveer Noshahi and others also addressed the crowd.

Meanwhile, the GHA delegation also had a meeting with Deputy Chairman Senate Saleem Maandeywala, who supported their demands and expressed concern over several clauses of the MTI Ordinance. “Instead of slapping an Ordinance, this important matter should have been discussed in both houses,” he said.

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