More than 20,000 resident doctors in the national capital on Thursday went on mass casual leave in solidarity with their Maharashtra counterparts, leading to postponement of over 800 surgeries across Delhi government and civic body-run hospitals, and also left thousands of patients in the lurch with OPD functions hit.
Resident doctors in Delhi went on mass casual leave in solidarity with a similar move by their Maharashtra counterparts over rising cases of assault on doctors by patients’ kin.
According to hospital staff, due to resident doctors remaining absent from their duties the OPD registration counters were shut in several government hospitals after 10am, instead of the usual time 1pm, compelling patients to return.
“At Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC) the OPD card counters were shut immediately after the resident doctors went off their duties as part of mass casual leave. Many patients had no idea initially and kept standing in the queue,” said Sanjana Rawat, a nurse at LHMC.
There are 38 hospitals under the Delhi government. Resident doctors in hospitals under the central government, except the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, were also part of the protest.
Delhi government hospitals every day witness nearly 1,600 pre-scheduled surgeries and over 200 emergency ones.
Patients in several other government hospitals such as Lal Bahadur Sastri Hospital, Dadadev Mother and Child Hospital and GB Pant were affected as only the emergency departments were functional and even the normal medicine OPD remained partially operational.
“Nearly 60 per cent of patients at Dadadev Mother and Child hospital could not get doctors consultation or treatment due to the protest. However, the emergency cases were somehow treated as resident doctors having duty in emergency department were not part of the protest,” said Nirupam Ghosh, associated with the administration wing of Dadadev Mother and Child hospital.
Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) -- under whose banner the protest was being held in Delhi -- said of the 5,400 OPD cards registered in Delhi government hospitals on Thursday only 25 per cent of patients could consult doctors.
The resident doctors have also threatened to go on a pan India strike soon if the government fails to ensure them a safe atmosphere to perform their duties.
“This mass casual leave was just an indication of what we can do to ensure our safety. If the health ministry does not take necessary steps to stop assault on doctors we will go on pan India strike,” said Pankaj Solanki, President FORDA, told IANS.
Several private hospitals also came out in support of the protest by resident doctors.
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital chairman DS Rana said that in solidarity with the “concerns of safety of doctors” the general and private OPDs of the hospital will not function on Friday. The inpatient as well as emergency services will function normally.
City-based Fortis condemned the rising cases of assault on doctors, but added the hospital will continue to function normally.
“A safe and secure work environment is the basic requirement for care givers to provide best possible medical care to patients. We at Fortis Healthcare are firmly committed to our patients, and our medical services remain unhampered as our doctors continue to serve the community, as always,” a statement said.
As part of the protest, resident doctors have also decided to sport black arm bands on March 24 during work.