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Monday, 28 October 2013

Cleaning house: Health dept suspends 81 doctors across province

PESHAWAR: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has suspended 81 doctors and a pharmacist, for their continued absence from work for the past several years, The Express Tribune has learnt. 

According to a notification issued by the health department on October 21, a pharmacist and 81 doctors from various public sector hospitals in K-P have been suspended. Disciplinary action against them has been initiated.

The notification, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, states the absent officials have been served various show-cause notices at their home addresses. Notices were also published in newspapers directing them to resume their duties within a stipulated period, however, the officials failed to comply.

Missing in action

"Therefore, in exercise of powers under the K-P Government Servants (efficiency and discipline) Rules 2011, the competent authority is pleased to impose the major penalty of removal from services upon the doctors and pharmacist with immediate effect.

The period from the date of absences till the date of imposition of penalty shall be treated as unauthorised absence from duty without pay," states the notification.

Six senior doctors from Khyber Teaching Hospital, four from Lady Reading Hospital, four from Hayatabad Medical Complex, five from various public hospitals in Swat, two from Mardan Medical Complex and various others employed at district hospitals have remained absent since the last seven to eight years, shared a health department official requesting anonymity.

"Some doctors have been absent for the last ten years. They are working aboard and continue to receive salaries from the health department," he informed. The department received many complaints from locals but failed to take any action, he said.

"However, the present government has decided to be strict and directed the health department to take immediate action against absent officials, dismiss them and hire new doctors."

Health Department Special Secretary Akbar Khan confirmed the notification had been issued against absent officials. Khan said officials were sent letters and show-cause notices multiple times, however, they gave no response which is why the health department suspended them.

"After investigation, we found some of the doctors are not even in the country. A majority of them are working in UAE and Saudi Arabia," shared Khan. The department will send these vacant posts to the Public Service Commission to recruit new doctors, he added.

Responding to a question about the shortage of doctors in district hospitals, Khan stated doctors have been hired on a contractual basis and vacant posts will be filled up soon through the commission.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 28th, 2013.

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