Disaffected doctors

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The Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa had introduced the Medical and Teaching Institutions Act in 2015 — apparently without taking senior doctors into confidence. Under this law, the government adopted health policies, including making new recruitments. Senior health experts disagreed with some features of the new arrangements and felt ignored in matters where they have a significant role. This led to many senior doctors to resign from their jobs at prestigious hospitals i.e. Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex. As many as 56 senior doctors have left LRH alone over the past two years. Similar exodus of seniors has also taken place from the other two hospitals mentioned.

Inexperienced newly-recruited doctors have reportedly been given authority over senior professionals. This, together with alleged irregularities at hospitals, has added to disaffection among the senior health professionals. Senior doctors preferred resigning from government jobs to shutting up their private clinics. The departure of senior doctors from government hospitals is causing severe problems for patients, especially the poor ones. Now these patients have to depend on medical graduates with little experience. They have to consult specialists at their private clinics after paying high fees. The most telling effect of the sorry state is closure of the cardiology department at LRH.

The consequences of the government’s health policies indicate that they were, and are being, implemented without giving the issues proper attention. Conditions in the health sector of other provinces too are not attractive. Doctors often protest on roads for redressal of their grievances. The growing disaffection among health experts has compelled many to leave the country for a better life abroad. Many have left and many are considering doing so. In recent years, thousands of doctors have left the country. Doctors are leaving, and there are no jobs for engineers and other highly-qualified technical manpower. Things have come to such a pass that between 2018 and 2020, around 25,000 electricians have preferred to work abroad. Pakistanis working abroad send money home, of course. However, rising remittances don’t give the true picture of the state of affairs.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2021.

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