DHQ hospital nurses go on strike against ‘harassmentÂ’
By Yaqoob Malik
ATTOCK: Nurses of the District Headquarters (DHQ) hospital went on strike and staged a protest on Attock-Kamra road on Friday against alleged harassment and indifferent attitude of the hospital administration, which denied the charges.
About 60 nurses gathered in front of the DHQ hospital’s main gate in the morning and blocked the road, suspending traffic on the busy link.
The protesters were carrying placards inscribed with slogans against the facility’s medical superintendent (MS) Dr Khalid Mehmood Khan and the administration.
Local police led by DSP Hafiz Aulak and an official of Attock district administration Chaudhry Rabnawaz reached the scene and started negotiating with the protesters but they refused to disperse.
Talking to reporters, the nurses led by Senior Nurse Ms Farkhanda levelled allegations against the MS and a doctor.
They claimed the hospital administration harassed them in the name of medical examination, and when they objected to it the administration victimised them through different acts and even prevented them from availing weekly off and holidays. The matter was reported to the health authorities in writing but in vain, she said.
Ms Farkhanda accused a medical officer (MO) of sexually harassing the nurses.
The protesters called for immediate transfer of the MS and registration of a criminal case against the MO concerned, warning they would keep protesting until their demands were accepted.
On the request of some notables, the nurses agreed to open the road after about two hours but staged a sit-in in front of the DHQ hospital.
The situation worsened when some paramedical staff, nurses and others workers gathered inside the hospital in the support of the MS and the administration. However, the MS asked them to disperse and avoid any confrontation.
MS Dr Khan told reporters that few days back he asked MO Dr Mohammad Saeed to monitor the performance of nurses. Soon after the move, the MS received a complaint from Ms Farkhanda and some other student nurses of the General Nursing School, who stated that Dr Saeed allegedly harassed them.
Dr Khan ordered an inquiry and asked Ms Farkhanda to submit a detailed report, but instead of submitting the report, the nurses went on strike.
About the motive behind the agitation, the MS said that recently the nursing school principal informed him that she believed that some students were involved in immoral activities. Therefore, the principal asked him to get their medical tests conducted.
Medical examination of some nurses was carried out and it was revealed that a third year nurse was pregnant. According to Dr Khan, this infuriated the nurses.
Executive District Officer (EDO) Health Dr Musarrat Hussain Abdullah, when contacted, said annual medical checkup of nurses and other medical staff was part of rules and regulations to check the physical fitness of the employees. “It is nothing unique.”
However, Dr Abdullah said that a three-member inquiry committee headed by a lady doctor had been formed to hold an inquiry, adding that it would submit its report to him in two days.
When asked about a complaint filed by some student nurses on Friday morning, the EDO said he had assured them of an impartial inquiry.
Meanwhile, Rawalpindi division’s director health Dr Zafar Iqbal Gondal also reached the hospital. While talking to reporters, he assured that the investigation would be carried out on merit.
Later, Mr Gondal and Dr Hussain went to the office of the district coordination officer to discuss the prevailing serious situation, and shortly afterward a group of protesting nurses also reached there to present their point of view.
A tense like situation prevailed at the hospital till filling of this report, causing serious problems to the patients.