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Over 100 physiotherapists relieved of duty in Punjab

LAHORE: Instead of facilitating the health professionals during corona crisis, the Punjab primary and secondary healthcare department has issued directions to relieve over 100 physiotherapists of duties from the state-run hospitals of the province after expiry of their contract agreement in 2019.

The health department rendered a large number of physiotherapists jobless at the stroke of a pen through an official letter issued on Tuesday.

In the letter, it has directed the chief executive officers of all districts of the province to implement the order forthwith, landing the health professionals and their families in trouble.

Medics were working on basis of court stay after expiry of contract

They declared it an unjust action by primary and secondary healthcare department saying the Punjab government was making life harder for professionals.

“I am directed by the competent authority to direct you to relieve all physiotherapists presently working on the basis of stay orders of the Lahore High Court with immediate effect i.e. 20.04.2021 in the light of the judgement of the honorable court, as their contracts have expired since October 2019 and April 2020 and they are not serving under a valid, subsiding contract.”

“You are further directed to submit compliance report positively today before closing of office hours,” reads the official letter addressed to the CEOs of the health department Punjab.

It further stated that the matter regarding release of their salaries for the period they served after expiry of contract will be decided afterwards on a case-to-case basis.

One of the ‘affected’ health professionals said more than 100 physiotherapists had been working without salaries for the last 18 months in all district headquarter hospitals (DHQs) and tehsil headquarter hospital (THQs).

He said they all have immediately been relieved of their duties, ignoring the judgment of the Lahore High Court.

In the judgment, he said, the court had clearly given direction to the department to pay all outstanding salaries of previous 18 months and send their case for regularisation to Punjab Public Service Commission under Regularization Act 2018.

He said the physiotherapists were appointed on yearly contract basis during the Shehbaz Sharif tenure back in July 2017 along with other 1,586 allied health professionals.

Other allied health professionals are working and their contracts are being extended, he said.

The Punjab health department refused to comment on the issue when this reporter contacted.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2021

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