With doctors going on mass leave for the second consecutive day across government hospitals in the state, patients bore the brunt. A 23-year-old victim of sexual assault, who had attempted suicide, was forced to wait for over five hours in the emergency ward at the BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central due to non-availability of sufficient doctors Monday night.
In Mumbai, over 400 surgeries were rescheduled in five major hospitals while out-patient department (OPDs) remained half shut.
The gang-rape victim’s husband claims that before she was hospitalised at Nair Hospital late Monday night, she was given an injection and asked to return home despite constant vomiting, and pain in chest and abdomen. “She kept vomiting and could not eat food. I had nowhere to go, so I sat with her in the emergency ward until they finally admitted her,” said her husband (25).
The Boisar woman, who had consumed a bottle of acid, is in need of surgery for her burnt throat and lungs. “Doctors said the surgery would get delayed. We are told doctors went on strike because one of them was beaten up. I don’t think I will be able bear this pain for long,” she said.
In January this year, the woman was allegedly raped by her three neighbours in Boisar (Palghar). The accused had allegedly pulled her in a van and drove to a secluded spot where they committed the crime. “They made a video of it and threatened to release it if I told my husband or police,” she said from her bed at Nair hospital. With the accused continuing to stalk her, she alleged, she consumed an acid used for floor cleaning on February 6.
She was rushed to Pramod Hospital in Valsad (Gujarat), and later to the civil hospitals in Valsad and in Surat. Her suicide attempt led to the registration of an FIR and the Boisar police arrested two of the accused, Sandeep Yadav and Shubham Yadav. Third accused Mulayam Pande is absconding.
The woman’s weight has dropped significantly as she cannot consume food due to a burnt food pipe. Her husband, a catering worker, brought her to Mumbai’s Shatabdi Hospital in Kandivli after going to four hospitals in Valsad and Surat. Shatabdi Hospital did not have the facility to operate on her and referred her to Nair.
On Monday, the couple reached Nair Hospital at 5 pm. “After an hour, a doctor gave her an injection and asked us to leave,” said her husband. The couple waited until 11 pm when she was finally admitted. The husband said her frame had shrunk and she was still in shock, adding that no counselling was provided to her after the suicide attempt. Her medical reports show her food pipe is constricted due to the acid burns.
A doctor checked her condition once Tuesday morning and told her that an immediate surgery was not possible. The sixth floor ward where she has been admitted has no on-duty doctor, only nurses.
Like other government hospitals, Nair services have been crippled with 380 of 501 resident doctors on leave. The hospital was able to conduct only five surgeries and six deliveries between Monday and Tuesday in contrast to over 70 surgeries done in a day. “We are doing emergency surgeries, but routine procedures will face a delay,” said hospital’s deputy dean Dr Padmaja Aigal.
The hospital’s OPD was cut short from 2,000 to less than 200 Tuesday. With over 4,500 doctors on leave in Maharashtra, OPDs in KEM, Sion, JJ and Nair hospitals remained half shut Tuesday.
Meanwhile, based on the Bombay High Court’s order, the deans of medical colleges have issued warning to protesting resident doctors to join work by Tuesday night. “We will issue a show-cause notice to those who continue to remain absent and cancel their registration,” said Dr T P Lahane, dean at JJ Group of Hospitals.
The medical education department has threatened to terminate the services of doctors if the mass leave continues. “We have assured them of increased security. But it cannot be mobilised in a day,” said Rajagopal Devera, Secretary, Medical Education. A report by the department on the ongoing protest will be submitted to the HC Wednesday.
The doctors continued their protest at Azad Maidan Tuesday despite several rounds of government meetings. By evening, a few doctors however resumed work. “Doctors cannot work in fear of getting assaulted. Unless the issues are immediately addressed, most will not resume work,” said Dr Parthiv Sanghvi, Mumbai unit secretary of the Indian Medical Association.
Mumbai Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar assured to provide 400 security guards by Saturday in major hospitals and another 300 by April 1.
Doctors are not only demanding better security, but also a vigilance committee for assault cases and fast-track disposal of the cases in courts. Six cases of assault have been reported in March across Maharashtra.
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