Finance Division asks health ministry to justify list for grant of Covid-19 allowance

ISLAMABAD   –   The Finance Division has asked the Ministry of National Health Services to justify the names of healthcare workers (HCWs) in the list provided for the grant of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) risk allowance, The Nation learnt on Thursday. 

The Finance Division has also said that the number of HCWs in the list provided in the month of April was 3432, which has now become 12132 and it needs a justification.

It has also asked the ministry to provide the rationale of awarding the COVID-19 risk allowance to the officials working in secretariat who are not exposed to the virus.

The letter written to the Prime Minister Office by the Finance Division regarding release of COVID-19 risk allowance for the HCWs of the health departments working under the health ministry said that in view of the decision of National Coordination Committee at para 1 and justification as paras 3 and 4, Finance Division has no objection to the proposal at para 6 of the summary.

However, the letter said that the number of beneficiaries at the time of grant of risk allowance during the period April to July 2020 for 10 health establishments was 3432. The number of beneficiaries now proposed has gone upto 12132 for 12 health establishments, which needs to be justified.

It also said that number of beneficiaries (12132) mentioned at para 5 may be rationalized, as employees of a number of health establishments like M/o National Health Services, Regulations & Coordination, Office of the District Health Officer, Directorate of Central Health Establishments, etc., are doing policy related work in the offices like other offices of Federal Secretariat and are not directly exposed to virus threat from the patients. The health workers who are directly engaged in patient care at the hospitals qualify for health risk allowance.

The notice said that the rationale for grant of risk allowance for five and half months needs to be justified.

The HCWs of the government run hospitals of the city in July had suspended Outpatient Departments (OPDs) and vaccination centres in protest over non-release of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) risk allowance.

Officials at the Ministry of NHS said that the ministry and hospital employees were at loggerheads because the ministry was demanding a list of HCWs who had performed COVID-19 duties.

However, the hospital employees bodies were demanding the risk allowance for all employees of the hospitals as they were exposed with the virus.

Doctors, paramedics, and other supporting staff of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Federal Government Services Polyclinic Hospital and National Institute of Rehabilitation Medicines under the banner of Federal Grand Health Alliance (FGHA) had suspended the health services for four hours.

Meanwhile, suspension of healthcare services at the major hospitals increased problems of the patients visiting there.

The FGHA in its statement had demanded to provide COVID-19 risk allowance to all employees of the hospitals equal to their 12-month basic pay. It also said that the risk allowance should be paid along with the salary if the coronavirus remains.

“All house officers, post graduate doctors and nursing students should also be given corona risk allowance,” said the statement.