Patients face tough time in hospitals as docs in Delhi protest over violence in WBPTI | New Delhi | Updated: 14-06-2019 21:48 IST | Created: 14-06-2019 21:47 IST
Patients in the national capital faced a harrowing time as doctors at several government and private hospitals boycotted work and held demonstrations at many facilities in solidarity with their protesting colleagues in Kolkata. There was a shutdown of out patient departments (OPDs), routine operation theatre services and ward visits, except emergency services in several hospitals of the city, including AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital and LNJP Hospital.
Patients unaware of the stir reached hospitals only to return or waiting interminably to be attended. Junior doctors in West Bengal are on strike since Tuesday after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured allegedly by relatives of a patient who died at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata.
Scores of doctors in Delhi Friday held demonstrations, with many seeing patients in emergency wards wearing bandages on forehead or helmets, marching and raising slogans to express solidarity. A delegation of Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, United Resident and Doctors Association of India (URDA) and Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) met Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and submitted a representation to him seeking a central law to check violence against healthcare workers in hospitals.
Condemning any form of violence especially against medical professionals in the country, the India Medical Association (IMA) launched a four-day nationwide protest from Friday and called for a strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services. The apex medical body also wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah over their demands regarding safety of doctors in hospitals.
Vardhan on Friday supported the medical fraternity's demand for a central law to check violence against healthcare workers in hospitals and said such crimes should be made non-bailable. "Heinous repeated attacks on doctors across India esp WBengal have led to this situation.Govt must pass a Law to make any attack on Docs a non-bailable offence with min 12 yr jail. Draconian Clinical Establishment Act that treats Docs as criminals must be withdrawn (sic)," Vardhan tweeted.
Patients, many from outstation, bore the brunt of the protest as they faced a lot of hassle in accessing medical care or waited for long hours at OPDs of hospitals. Sumitra Devi, 51, a native of Uttar Pradesh, visited AIIMS to consult a doctor for her son but could not do so and was asked to visit later.
"I came all the way from Saharanpur yesterday and had put up near the AIIMS for my son, who has kidney-related ailments. Now, I have to wait to see the doctor again," she said. However, many hospitals could not join the protest on Friday, as they had not earlier submitted a prior 24-hour notice to the government as required by a protocol. They will observe a bandh on Saturday.
However, the ICU and emergency wings of these hospitals will continue to function, President of Federation of Residents Doctor's Association (FORDA) Sumedh Sandanshiv said. The Delhi Medical Association (DMA) Friday also extended its full support to the protesting doctors in West Bengal even as it asserted that medical facilities and number of doctors need to be augmented to address issues related to patients.
Scores of doctors under the umbrella of the DMA also held a dharna in front of its office in Daryaganj and later marched to Rajghat. Apex healthcare industry body NATHEALTH, in a statement said, doctors and health care providers comprise the backbone of modern healthcare delivery and require a safe environment to deliver care and save lives.
Several doctors of Delhi government hospitals, including Lok Nayak Jayaprakash (LNJP) Hospital, Dr BR Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital, DDU Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, and private hospital like Sir Ganga Ram Hospital Friday also joined the stir. "Yes, doctors at LNJP Hospital have joined the protest in solidarity with colleagues in Bengal. The OPD is shut, and only emergency department is functioning. The hospital OPD's average footfall on a regular day is about 9,000. But, today only about 2,000 has visited," the hospital's Medical Superintendent, Dr Kishore Singh, told PTI in the afternoon.
He said patient services were affected as this is the Delhi government's biggest hospital, but a stand has been taken to show support as fellow doctors. At Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, the private OPD was closed for Friday as a mark of solidarity, officials said. "All doctors of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital are fully in support of our colleagues in West Bengal and strongly protest against growing tendency of violence against doctors," a hospital spokesperson said. The resident doctors associations of G B Pant and Guru Nanak Hospital, associated with the Maulana Azad Medical College, also joined the protest.
Condemning the violence in West Bengal, the AIIMS RDA had on Thursday urged resident doctors' association to join the token strike. In the wake of the strike, several hospitals, including AAIMS, instituted contingency measures to take care of the patients admitted, including those in the ICUs and wards.