Row Over Mass Sack Hits Healthcare In Valley

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SRINAGAR: Doctors and paramedical personnel brought state-run hospitals to a halt across the valley on Monday by striking work over what they described as large-scale dismissals among their ranks.

The two-day strike beginning today hit district and sub-district hospitals, as well as community and public health centres, coming under the directorate of health services for the Kashmir province.

Thousands of patients were left unattended or had to return disappointed, and a large number of surgeries and investigations scheduled for today cancelled.

The medical staff had struck work to oppose the government’s decision to terminate the services of over two thousand personnel who, according to their union, had put in 20 years of service.

Personnel engaged through a similar process in the Jammu region have been left untouched.

The row pertains to about 5,238 appointments made in the health services in Jammu and Kashmir between 1989 and 2013 under recruitment powers vested with chief medical officers (CMOs) of various districts.

Province-wise, 2,740 appointments had been in the Jammu region, and 2, 498 in the Kashmir Valley.

After a query last year to the directorate of health services over the recruitments in Kashmir, the health ministry had struck down all appointments except 336 as illegal on the plea that they had not been made through the state’s recruiting agencies.

According to unions, all such appointments in the Valley were quashed, and several months of wages of employees concerned withheld.

On the contrary, similar appointments in the Jammu province are reported to have gone unquestioned.

Health employees in all valley districts held vehement protests today, shouting slogans against the government and, in many cases, taking to the streets.

Employees staged a sit-in before the directorate of health services also.

“Over 2,400 employees who have been serving for more than 20 years have been declared to illegal after two decades of service,” the chairman of the Health Employees Coordination Committee, Khursheed Ahmad Bhat, said.

“They had been appointed when the health department was sorely in need of manpower, but today only those who were recruited through the SSRB or under SRO 43 are being deemed legal,” he said.

“Around 2,700 similar appointments had been made in the Jammu province toom but they have been deemed to be in order,” he said.

“This is pure discrimination against Kashmir,” he said.

PROTESTS IN SKIMS

Non-gazetted employees at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) today held protests in the premises demanding the removal of the institute director.

Union leaders claimed that the SKIMS was in the “wrong hands” for the past two years, and that the “dreams of the Sher-e-Kashmir to provide quality healthcare to Kashmiris lay shattered.”

“The director is holding nine posts despite the existence of suitable officers,” they said, adding that he should step down as the principal of the SKIMS Medical College (formerly the Jhelum Valley Medical College) and from the post of the CMM.

“The director is focussing on purchases but ignoring patient care,” they said. “Even small items are not available to patients.” 

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