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Private hospitals lay off staff as flow of Afghan patients drops

private hospital in peshawar

PESHAWAR: The private hospitals have started to lay off employees after decrease in number of Afghan patients owing to the border management measures taken by the government, according to sources.

“We cannot maintain more staff now. The number of patients has plummeted to 10 per cent only. We have lost 90 per cent patients, who used to come from different parts of Afghanistan for treatment,” said a senior doctor at a private hospital in Hayatabad.

He said that private health facilities were mostly dependent on Afghan patients and they had to lay off more staffers in the coming months. He said that private hospitals were not receiving patients owing to which they had begun to terminate services of their employees.

“We laid off a few technicians, doctors and Class-IV employees owing to decline in number of patients. We have been requesting the government to allow the Afghan patients for treatment in Pakistan as private health facilities will face closure if the situation remains the same,” said the doctor.

Doctor fears closure of private health facilities if situation remains the same

Another hospital, which faces the same situation, has already sacked nine employees and is likely to phase out its 200 staffers in the near future.

“Since we started operations, number of patients grew day by day for which we hired doctors, paramedics, nurses and support staff to cope with workload but now more than half of employees seem surplus owing decrease in number of Afghan patients,” said a physician.

He said that the staffers also realised the situation and they were applying for jobs somewhere else. Specialised health services were not available in Afghanistan and those patients, who could afford, travelled to Peshawar before enforcement of legal restrictions that benefited private hospitals in Peshawar.

The killing of an army major in July near the border triggered strict security measures. Now those Afghans, who have valid visas, are allowed to enter Pakistan. It affected the private hospitals in Peshawar that thrived on the Afghan patients.

Keeping in view the flourishing businesses of private hospitals, senior doctors have started three big buildings in Hayatabad but the established private sector is showing signs of decline.

“The people, who were kept waited for appointments of some consultants for weeks, can get it on the same day now,” said a doctor, who left his job in a private hospital last week.

He said they operated upon about 40 patients every day in the past.

“Now only 10 patients are operated upon for which two medics are required at the operation theatre. Four technicians of the six will lose jobs,” said the doctor.

The doctors are worried that their hospitals would face colure if the Afghans continue to stay away from Peshawar. They want a legal procedure to permit patients to enter Pakistan.

The past two months were not good for medical practitioners too. Since the start of return of Afghan refugees from the province, clinics also receive fewer patients.

A health worker at a private hospital in Dabgari Gardens said that three of his colleagues were sacked owing to shortage of patients.

“The Afghan refugees have also stopped visiting the government-run facilities and contact private clinics for common diseases,” he added. -DN


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