Surgeries and out-patient department operations were affected in most government hospitals as 20,000 junior doctors went on mass casual leave on Thursday to support their counterparts in Mumbai asking for security in hospitals.
Junior doctors from Maharashtra have been on strike for four days after a spate of attacks on them by relatives of patients.
While emergency services are operational, services in the OPD, wards and routine operation theatres were not working to capacity between 9am and 4pm in all government hospitals in Delhi.
“We had to restrict our OPD registration; we closed the registration windows at 11. Some routine surgeries had to be postponed,” said Dr Punita Mahajan, medical director of Baba Saheb Ambedkar hospital.
Doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung continued work but supported the strike. AIIMS doctors came to work wearing driving helmets and Safdarjung doctors had black ribbons pinned to their chest.
“AIIMS is a tertiary care hospital where poor patients come from across the country with prior appointments, so we will not stop our work. We condemn the Maharashtra government’s move of suspending the doctors and we stand by FORDA,” said Dr Vijay Gurjar, president of the resident doctors’ association at AIIMS.
Most scheduled surgeries at all major hospitals were cancelled. Lok Nayak alone cancelled nearly 30 surgeries scheduled for Thursday.
“All our senior doctors and faculty members were diverted from the wards and the operation theatres to the OPD, so that patient care is not affected. However, some surgeries had to be cancelled after the resident doctors gave notice of the mass leave in the morning,” said Dr JC Passey, medical director of the Lok Nayak hospital.
“Only doctors running the emergency services and the ICU are working, the rest have taken the day off. Consultants are running the out-patient department,” said Dr Pankaj Solanki, president of the national body Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA).
Doctors from a private hospital -- Sir Ganga Ram Hospital -- also decided to shut down their general and private OPD. “Our hospital expresses solidarity with the concerns of IMA and DMA regarding safety of doctors. The emergency as well as the inpatient services will function normally tomorrow,” a hospital release said.