Hundreds of patients suffer as JPMC doctors go on strike.

A patient along with his attendants waits outside the health facility while (right) JPMC doctors stage a protest on Thursday.-White Star

KARACHI: Protesting doctors at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) suspended outpatient department (OPD) services on Thursday, forcing a large number of poor patients, including the elderly, to return without getting any treatment.

The doctors are demanding that the federal and the provincial governments take them on board over the fate of the hospital which, under a Supreme Court order, is to be handed over to the former.

The strike was held after the government paid no heed to doctors' ultimatum given two days ago.

While the doctors Dawn spoke with insisted that the protest was brief, causing no inconvenience to patients as the OPD resumed its operation after an hour or so, the majority of patients suffered miserably.

'Our father is in a lot of pain and we have no option but to seek treatment elsewhere,' said Ahsan, who had brought his ailing father to JPMC in an ambulance from New Karachi.

Staffers want the provincial and federal governments to consult them over the hospital's future

Other patients' attendants, most of them illiterate who had come after spending their hard-earned money on transporting their loved ones to the hospital, had similar stories to narrate.

They were found helpless as doctors were busy in their protest and they had been left to fend for themselves.

Prolonged legal battle

The JPMC, the largest tertiary care hospital in the public sector, caters to thousands of patients daily.

Unfortunately, however, the services of the hospital have been greatly affected since 2011 when the facility, along with the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, was devolved to the provincial government under 18th Constitutional Amendment in 2010.

The step, sources said, was taken without taking the medical staff, the main stakeholders, into confidence, which resulted in a series of strikes, causing...

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