Doctors’ strike cripples city’s health services

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With resident doctors in Mumbai continuing their mass leave on Tuesday, health services across the 18 hospitals affiliated to medical colleges in the city were badly hit. Interns and senior doctors stepped in to attend to patients in the casualty wards, but the out-patient departments (OPD) in many hospitals remained closed.

At Sion Hospital, the OPDs remained shut throughout the day, but emergency cases were attended to. Services were affected at KEM Hospital in Parel and Nair Hospital, too.

An intern doctor at Nair Hospital said, “I have been working for 12 hours straight, but we are ensuring that the emergency cases are attended to. We want to support the cause because we will become resident doctors too at some stage and we don’t want to get beaten up.”

The resident doctors maintained that they were on leave in their individual capacities and that it was not a ‘strike’. Refusing to be identified, one doctor said, “We have been given verbal assurances in the past as well. What we want is greater security at the hospitals so that we can do our job well.”

Dr Sagar Mundada, the chairman of the youth wing of Indian Medical Association (IMA) in Maharashtra, asked: “How can a resident doctor, who is worried about the reaction of the patients’ relatives, deliver quality healthcare?”

Even though the patients were inconvenienced, some of them came out in support of the resident doctors’ demand for greater security in hospitals. Mohammad Isa, 65, who accompanied his nine-month pregnant niece to Sion Hospital for a routine check-up, said, “I didn’t know about the doctors’ mass leave. We have been asked to come back after a few days.” He added, “It is not fair that the doctors get beaten up. After all, they are not Gods.”

Planned surgeries were cancelled for a second day in a row and most patients continued to be turned away from the hospitals. Pregnant women who came to the hospital to be registered had to be turned back as well.

At Sion Hospital, the resident doctors donated blood, making productive use of their time. “We wanted to do something for the patients and we will return to work once we feel safe,” said Dr Gagan Pratap Singh, a second-year pathology resident doctor.

Demands made by resident doctors

  • Appointment of armed personnel at places like ICU and emergency services.
  • Installation of alarm systems in hospitals.
  • Only two relatives to be allowed with a patient.
  • Formation of a vigilance committee to handle cases of violence.
  • Time-bound resolution of cases of violence.

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