PESHAWAR – It has been the seventh year the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has implemented much-publicized health reforms in KP healthcare facilities, however, unfortunately, neither the government nor the public and healthcare providers are satisfied with the health services offered in the public sector hospitals.
After winning the 2013 general elections, the PTI-led KP government vowed to introduce landmark reforms in the health sector.
It made a steering committee that deliberated for almost a year before finally introducing
the Medical Teaching Institution Reforms Act 2014, known as the MTI Act, (notified 1st Act of 2015).
The government then notified governing boards for major tertiary care hospitals, including, the Lady Reading Hospital, (LRH), Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH), Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) in Peshawar, and Ayub Teaching Hospital (ATH) in Abbottabad in May 2015.
Due to a lot of litigations and opposition to the so-called health reforms by members of the medical community, the implementation of the reforms could not earnestly start before 2016.
Other teaching hospitals in Mardan, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Nowshera, and Bannu were later notified as MTIs.
Among other reasons for introducing these reforms in health, one observation was that these hospitals were practically non-functional after 1 pm as the consultants would leave for their private clinics.
Supporting staff, including paramedics, nurses, and non-technical employees, known as Class-IV workers would also report for their second jobs in these private practices.
The LRH took the lead in implementing the health reforms.
It notified hospital timing from 8 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday and thereafter the institution-based private practice (IBPP) till 8 pm for all MTI recruited consultants and those pre-MTI consultants opting for the IBPP.
Furthermore, the board of governors of LRH, headed by Dr. Nausherwan Burki, made biometric attendance mandatory for all staff members. The LRH teaching staff association, paramedics association, and nursing associations obviously outright rejected these work timings.
They staged protests by going on strikes and thus bringing the LRH working to a standstill. They refused to record biometric attendance. It was well-known that some consultants would start private clinics during official working hours i.e. before 2 pm. This practice still goes on.
According to sources in the hospital administration, non-IBPP practicing consultants still leave the hospital for private clinics well before 4 pm.
Surprisingly, the LRH administration started RFID attendance instead of biometrics. Thus consultants and others hired staff/persons, who could now mark proxy attendance for them using their RFID cards.
One senior consultant was terminated from service as his attendance was marked by a private janitor. Then there is a relatively honest staff who would mark their attendance personally.
“Some of them go home/hostel at about 1 pm and return to the hospital at 4 pm to mark attendance,” an official of the LRH administration told The News on condition of anonymity.
Those who live relatively far away, stay in the hospitals from 8 am to 4 pm, and IBPP practices till 8 pm. “Most of them take an afternoon nap in their offices,” the official said.
The last two practices are more common in those MTIs, where biometric attendance has to be recorded. “Why the LRH introduced RFID attendance instead of biometrics. It is widely claimed to make it convenient for the blue-eyed and cronies. Maybe it was/is a trap for the anti-MTI elements,” one senior consultant remarked when reached out by The News.
He said when the LRH administration changed from biometric to RFID attendance, staff who had almost zero biometric attendance surprisingly recorded almost 100 percent RFID attendance.
“Whereas other MTIs enforce biometric attendance, LRH still continues with RFID attendance for staff,” he said.
(Source: National print and online media with input from social media and local sources).