LAHORE: The administrative and financial affairs of the Mayo Hospital, Lahore, the largest public sector teaching institute of the province, are being ignored by the top health authorities, resulting in deterioration in patient care and extra financial burden on patients, especially the poor ones.
As per sources, the public institute comprising more than 2600 beds was facing multiple issues, including the non-payment of salaries to the Postgraduate Residents (PGRs) and an acute shortage of life-saving medicine, which are adversely affecting the patients, as well as the medics, for the last many months.
There are also reports of supply of low-quality medicines to the institute through Local Purchase (LP) system, bribe from contractors and incompetence of the managerial staff.
However, the caretaker chief minister Punjab, the health secretary and the vice chancellor of the King Edward Medical University have been turning a blind eye to the problems of patients as well as the young medics.According to sources, some 300 fresh PGRs inducted in January 2023 into the Mayo, Lady Willingdon, Lady Aitchison and Kot Khwaja Saeed hospitals, attached to the King Edward Medical University (KEMU), who were serving in various wards of these institutes, have not been paid salaries so far.
Mayo Hospital Chapter of the Young Doctors’ Association Punjab (YDA) spokesperson Dr Ahmad Kamal told Dawn the KEMU administration had halted the process for payment of salaries following a policy under which the medics would get paid some 5-6 months after their induction.
Declaring it an “absurd policy”, he said how these employees and their families would survive for nearly half a year without salaries, especially in the face of unprecedented inflation in the country. He said the association held a series of meetings with the KEMU and the Mayo Hospital administration, with a request to review the policy, but to no avail.
He said the cold response by the administrations to their repeated written requests forced the medics on Monday to shut down the OPD services at the Mayo Hospital. They also raised slogans against the administration, staged a sit-in at the institute, threatening to expand the scope of agitation to other hospitals, if they were not paid the wages they were promised at the time of their induction, Dr Kamal said.
Besides, the Mayo Hospital has also been facing an acute shortage of life-saving medicines for several months.
An official list points out unavailability of as many as 26 life-saving/essential medicines and disposable items at the hospital’s emergency unit. These medicines include 13 types of injections, including morphine, besides Pyodine solutions, Lingnocane gel, epidural kit, polysling (used for arm support or to immobilise shoulder and arm), pelvic binder, skin traction (to immobilise and reduce fractures, correct deformities, and for management of soft tissue injuries), bone wax, ketone strips, cervical collar, gypsona bandage etc.
Because of unavailability at the hospital, the patients, mostly the poor ones, are forced to purchase these medicines and disposable items from the market, he says.
The source says the institute has also been facing an acute shortage of films used for X-rays, CT Scan, MRI and digital ultrasound, for several months. The patients undergoing these tests or their attendants are being asked to get pictures of their respective tests on their mobile phones to show to the doctors of the concerned wards/units. Similarly, he says, the facility of the free PCR test has also been withdrawn.
The source says the standard care at the hospital has started declining after Dr Munir Malik took charge as MS and the situation has now reached an alarming level as the higher authorities concerned were not taking notice of the plight of the patients, as well as the medics.Mayo Hospital MS Dr Munir Malik, however, cited the budgetary issues for the delay in dispensation of salaries to the PGRs, saying efforts were underway to pay their dues.
He said the issue of shortage of essential and live-saving medicines concerned the hospital’s chief executive officer.
To a question about the delay in issuance of PGRs salaries, he confirmed that the institute was following the policy decided by the health department.
Mayo Hospital CEO Prof Haroon Hamid says that the matter of non-payment of salaries to the PGRs has almost been resolved by involving the finance department and health authorities.
He says the institute has been given an assurance that the salaries will be paid within the next few days.
He says the issue of medicine shortage has been plaguing the hospital since long as it had arisen when some vendors went into litigation against bulk procurement last year and the matter remained pending for many months.
Prof Haroon says he himself went to the court explained the problems being faced by the patients due to the prolonged litigation and the stay order granted against any procurement for the institute.
He says the court has given decision in the favour of the institute, which has explored multiple options to ensure restoration of medicines supply.
“Now purchase orders have been issued and the medicines will be provided to the institute soon,” the CEO adds.
Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2023