Junior doctors and MBBS students demanding an overhauling of the falling infrastructure at Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College, the teaching wing of Safdarjung Hospital, went on a mass hunger strike on Monday afternoon.
The young medicos blocked OPD services for almost 3-4 hours starting 9 a.m. on Tuesday, forcing almost 4,000 patients to go without treatment. Safdarjung Hospital, the second largest hospital in the Capital, receives close to 6,000 patients every day.
“The strike is expected to get worse as more than 100 resident doctors have assured support to us,” said Karan Vats, president of the students welfare association (SWA) at VMMC.
Vats claimed that Dr R.K. Srivastava, director, health services, told the protesting students to “quit the college” if they were unhappy with the existing facilities.
Raj Kumar, the general secretary of the association, said, “The elevators have not been working for the last one year, causing inconvenience not just to the students and teachers but hundreds of patients to have to climb up four floors to reach the pathology department.”
“There is no ventilation in the rooms that are used for classes as well as examinations. Each room has only two fans and hundreds of students sit in each class,” he said, recounting how last week two female students fainted while writing their exam.
The institute building has a centralised water purifier, which the students claimed has been out-of-order for the last 1-and-half years.
“At least 10 students were down with jaundice last month after consuming water from the purifier,” another student claimed.
The hospital authorities were tight lipped. Hospital Director Dr. Jagdish Prasad and Medical Superintendent Dr N.K. Mohanty did not comment despite repeated attempts.
Patients bore the maximum brunt of the ongoing tussle between the administration and medicos.
“We have come all the way from Bulandshahar for my son’s treatment. We will have to spend the night on the streets as we could not get an OPD card made today,” said Radhe Shayam, a rickshaw puller.
Sarita Rani, who had come for her husband's eye surgery, also had a gruelling time, as she could not get into the hospital by the designated time.
“I reached the eye department at 1.30 p.m. They asked me to come tomorrow or take a fresh appointment.”