A dispute between doctors and nursing staff at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) has escalated as both sides set Monday’s deadline for the hospital administration to meet their respective demands.
Demanding reinstatement of their colleague, doctors staged a temporary boycott of the hospital’s Outpatient Department (OPD) on Saturday, while nurses are calling for the dismissal of the doctor who allegedly manhandled one of their staff members.
The chain of events reportedly started with nurse Saima-un-Nisa being allegedly subjected to verbal and physical violence by PG Dr Asif over the transfer of a patient from an ambulance to the medical emergency room of BBH on Thursday.
Following the incident, the nursing staff boycotted the emergency to protest the maltreatment of their colleague.
The boycott ended when Medical Superintendent (MS) Dr Nawaz Khokhar interceded and immediately formed a three-member inquiry committee to probe into the matter.
During her visit to the hospital on Friday, Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid also took notice of the incident and directed the MS to immediately suspend the doctor, upon which Dr Khokhar obliged and fulfilled the minister’s verbal instructions. At this, the other doctors boycotted the OPD for some time and staged a protest in front of the MS office.
Dr Bilal Shabbir of the Young Doctors Association said that CCTV footage of the incident is available, and if the doctor is found guilty, then action should be taken against him. However, he said, suspending Dr Asif merely on verbal instructions of the minister is unfair and unjust.
Dr Shabbir also met the MS in his office and demanded that either the suspended doctor be reinstated by Monday, or the staff nurse be suspended as well until the inquiry is completed. Otherwise, the YDA would consider other protest options including a complete boycott of OPD.
Meanwhile, purported victim Saima-un-Nisa insisted that she be given justice. “The doctor abused, slapped and kicked me in the stomach,” she claimed. “I can forgive him if he apologises. Otherwise, I have already filed an application at the Waris Khan police station about the incident.”
Saima further said that it was the unanimous demand of nurses that the doctor who tortured her should be fired, failing which a large-scale protest will be staged on Monday. She added that she has been receiving threats from doctors since the incident took place. Meanwhile, Dr Khokhar said that the report of the inquiry has been sent to Vice Chancellor Professor Dr Muhammad Omar and action would be taken in accordance with the law.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 19th, 2021.