KP govt set to declare healthcare essential service.

Byline: Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR -- The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is set to declare healthcare an essential service to check the frequent strikes and protests by employees of health facilities, especially doctors.

'As the cabinet has approved a summary, we are going to notify healthcare as an essential service and once that happens, any health department official going on strike will face strict action, including job termination,' health secretary Dr Syed Farooq Jamil told Dawn.

A notification to this effect will be issued on Monday.

Secretary says doctors, health workers to be fined, sacked over strikes

The officials said the Essential Service Maintenance Act, 1958, would be enforced under which any call for strike or attempt to hamper patient care would be considered to be a misconduct and an offence on part of the relevant employees, who would face disciplinary action.

They said the Peshawar High Court had asked the government in 2010 to declare the duties of doctors, paramedics, nursing staff and other employees of public sector hospitals, essential services.

The officials said the upcoming notification would bind all employees of hospitals and facilities offering curative, rehabilitative, preventive, promotive and supportive services, partially or fully funded by the exchequer, not to leave, abandon or discontinue duty at workplaces.

They said the health workers violating orders would face criminal cases, while punishment for them would be imprisonment up to one year, imposition of fine, and dismissal from service.

The officials said the health department had prepared lists of doctors for transfer to the areas, where they were most needed, to improve patient care.

They said as a rule, the doctors were required to serve in their native districts for three years after graduation.

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