Instead of working out the problems hampering performance at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), a Senate panel suggested that the hospital simply disband employees associations.
The suggestion was to ban labour unions “that create hurdles” at the hospital as a performance improvement measure. The suggestion, however, could be seen as a violation of the right to unionise, which is a fundamental right of every Pakistani under Article 17 of the Constitution.
Earlier, the Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Thursday put forward its recommendations before the Cabinet for approval to formulate rules to make public hospitals corruption-free as well as for the extension of Polyclinic hospital.
A member of the Senate panel expressed reservations over the challenges being faced by Pims and Polyclinic in providing better healthcare facilities to patients.
They asked the hospitals administration to provide them with a list of doctors and bureaucrats who are creating hurdles in the smooth functioning of hospital affairs.
Committee Chairperson Kalsoom Parveen said that in the last committee meeting, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmad assured the committee that issues relating to the handing over of possession of part of Argentina Park for the Polyclinic extension project would be resolved in three weeks.
But the issue remains unresolved, despite approval from the PM and the Argentine Ambassador, she said.
“This extension project is for the betterment of the poor as they are being deprived of the opportunity to get treatment at Polyclinic,” she said.
Expressing her reservations over the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) handling of the issue, she said that city managers “misled” the committee by making pledges during the meeting and later doing the exact opposite.
In response, the CDA Estate member informed the committee that giving part of the park away for construction was a violation of the Master Plan of the capital, adding that several Supreme Court verdicts had barred any construction activity on land zoned for public parks.
Minister of the State Barrister Usman Ibrahim of the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) said he has constituted a steering committee including the Polyclinic executive director, a Planning Division official, and the PWD director general to resolve the land possession issue.
The committee expressed disapproval over the PWD chief being appointed head of the steering committee and suggested that the Polyclinic ED be given the role instead.
Ibrahim said he will consider the recommendation and informed that funds have been allocated to carry out a feasibility report, adding that the steering committee will table the project before the cabinet for approval so that at least ground work could start.
On this, the chairperson of the standing committee said that should be started as soon as possible and that committee members would appear before the SC if it raises any concern over construction of the building in the park.
“This construction work is for the welfare of poor people and in this case no one should have any concerns,” she said.
The committee also expressed reservation over the procurement of medicine by Polyclinic. They said the hospital should purchase through well-known providers rather than smaller ones.
The committee also expressed concerns over the performance of Pims.
Prof Khaleequz Zaman, the PIMS head of Neurosurgery and also the head of the hospital management committee, said a few senior doctors that are creating hurdle for them in working smoothly.
He said hospital staff had been divided between the hospital and Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical Hospital, which is also creating performance issues.
On this the committee members came up with a surprising suggestion to ban all unions in the hospital, despite the fact that unionising is a fundamental right under Article 17 of the Constitution.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2014.