The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has directed health officials to file FIRs against doctors protesting across the province.
The police have also been deployed at Peshawar’s largest hospital, Lady Reading Hospital, to stop doctors from going on strike but that hasn’t deterred the protesters, who gathered from across the province at the hospital. Protests were also held at the Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex.
At Lady Reading, protesters entered the OPD and shut down operations.
The KP health department issued on Tuesday an order under the West Pakistan Essential Services (Maintenance) Act, 1958, directing the administration of health facilities and hospitals to take disciplinary action, including initiating criminal proceedings, against the doctors.
The department has directed all the district health officers, medical directors of teaching institutes, medical superintendents, the chief executive of the postgraduate medical institute Peshawar, director of health services in the merged districts and director-general of health services to take action against anyone who “leaves their place of duty or abandons/discontinues their services in their respective health facilities or hospitals”.
The order says disciplinary action will be taken against the administrative heads of the hospitals or establishments who fail to comply with the order. It also adds that the government has zero tolerance for negligence with regards to patients’ care.
The order has been issued in reaction to a strike called by the KP Doctors Council against the establishment of district and regional health authorities giving financial and administrative autonomy to hospitals at district level. The doctors oppose the move and have called it the “privatisation of public health facilities”.