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Protesting nurses divided as govt issues contracts

AFP

LAHORE: Bowing to the pressure of protesting ad hoc nurses due to their continuous strikes, the Punjab government on Sunday announced to give three-year contract letters to the ad hoc nurses with the commitment to regularise them after three years.
The government team said it has prepared 974 contract letters for the ad hoc nurses in the first phase, which would be delivered in a ceremony scheduled at the General Hospital on Monday or Tuesday. 
At least 490 contract letters would be issued for the ad hoc nurses at Mayo Hospital, 165 for those at General Hospital, 30 for Lady Willingdon Hospital, 19 for Mian Munshi Hospital and 97 for ad hoc nurses working at the Children’s Hospital.
Around 200 ad hoc nurses continued their protest demonstration and sit-in for the seventh consecutive day in front of the Punjab Assembly against the government policies on Sunday.
The Punjab government converted the ad hoc nurses’ job status into contractual, vowing to regularise them after three years, as per the law. However a group of nurses said they would not accept the offer of the Health Department regarding three-year contract, and demanded that the government must issue a notification for their direct regularisation.
On the other hand, a number of ad hoc nurses accepted the offer of the government on the condition that they would be regularised at the end of the contract period without appearing in the Punjab Public Service Commission exam.
Sources said that the protesting ad hoc nurses split into two groups – one who accepted the offer and ended their protest and the other who refused to do so. However, those who accepted the offer did not join the duty, saying that they should first receive their contract letters. After this, some of the nurses were reportedly handed over contracts.
Those still on The Mall are from Lahore and other cities of the province, who continue their protest without any leadership. The protesters are still demanding that the government should issue a notification for their direct regularisation.
Also, the nurses continued their 24-hour protest followed by a complete strike at all the public sector hospitals of the provincial capital. The protesting ad hoc nurses got full support from their colleagues who withdrew their services from all the government hospitals to express their solidarity with those protesting on The Mall.
The nurses even refused to work in the emergency departments, intensive care units and operation theatres of all the state-run hospitals of the city in the aftermath of police torture on their agitating colleagues.
Patients in the public hospitals suffered a great deal of inconvenience due to suspension of follow-up treatment, which was the main job of the duty nurses. Several operations, including some critical procedures, which were scheduled in the elective and emergency lists, were postponed at the teaching hospitals.
The Pakistan Medical Association had given an ultimatum of 72 hours to the government for acceptance of the demands of the nurses and departmental action against the police officials involved in torturing them. The PMA had warned that if action was not taken within the given time, doctors would also join the nurses in their protest on The Mall.
The YDA also put pressure on the government to accept the demands of the protestors without any delay. The YDA said that if government would not fulfil their demands soon than the YDA would also joined ad hoc nurses strike camp on The Mall. The YDA added that all young doctors would wear black ribbon during duty time today (Monday) to show the solidarity with ad hoc nurses in all hospitals across the province.
The protesting nurses alleged that the Health Department authorities and hospitals’ administrations had been pressurising them to call off their protest, but they would not end their sit-in until the government accepts their demands.
On Sunday, the ad hoc nurses continued their protest, blocking The Mall. A numbers of different political and religious originations, along with members of the YDA and civil society, reached the ad hoc nurses’ protesting camp on The Mall to show solidarity with them.

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