More than 200 surgeries were postponed at three major civic hospitals in the city after resident doctors went on an indefinite strike, starting Tuesday morning, over their demand for stipend hike and fixed duty hours.
Absence of resident doctors crippled medical services with patients being turned away as hospitals refused admission to “non-emergency cases”.
Nine months pregnant Kavita Dongre, 24, was referred to Sion Hospital from Thane Civil Hospital. Dongre’s surgery was considered to be risky but she was still turned away.
“Doctors asked me to go to JJ Hospital for my delivery as the doctors are on strike. This is the third hospital I have come to,” said Dongre, a Bhiwandi resident.
Sion Hospital, which conducts around 40 to 50 deliveries daily, conducted only five on Tuesday. “We are only admitting emergency cases and others are referred to private hospitals,” said a doctor.
The wards as well as out-patient departments also wore a deserted look at Sion, KEM and Nair Hospital.
KEM Hospital doctors operated only on 23 odd patients. “Out of our 639 resident doctors, 473 have not turned up for duty. The hospital has declared that our senior doctors will be on duty throughout the day so that patients are not affected,” said Dr Milind Salve, deputy dean, KEM Hospital.
However, patients had to wait for long hours to receive treatment. “I have been running around since morning to get a blood test and an MRI scan done. The doctors and nurses were extremely evasive and rude today”, said a female patient, who was waiting in line for a check-up at KEM Hospital.
It was only in January this year that 3500 resident doctors across the state, including 1700 from Mumbai, had called for a day-long mass bunk.
Despite the state medical education ministry’s warning to evoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act on striking doctors, the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) has refused to call off the strike. “We are students so ESMA is not applicable to us. If the patient care is affected, we are ready to give our services outside the hospitals. We will run parallel out-patient departments,” said Dr Santosh Wakchaure, president of MARD.