Over 750 resident doctors went on an indefinite strike on Tuesday morning at New Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital after three gynaecologists were beaten up by the family of a woman who died at the hospital on Monday night.
At a time when dengue is at its peak, all departments as well as the blood bank stopped functioning at the 1,800-bedded hospital — Delhi's second largest after the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Around 6,000 patients are treated at its out-patients department every day.
Only emergency services were being run by senior doctors, who comprise one-third of the total strength.
This is the third strike by doctors at Safdarjung hospital this year.
All three have been for the same reason: protests against doctors being roughed up by families of dissatisfied patients.
With services shut down, 55-year-old Basanti Devi reportedly died at the gates of the Emergency section of the hospital, after she was brought there on Tuesday. While her family blamed the death on lack of medical attention, the doctors said she was already critical and died a natural death.
Talks with Minister of State for Health Dinesh Trivedi on Tuesday evening failed after he threatened doctors with suspension if they did not join work as soon as possible.
"Security has to be proper but at the same time their demands have to be reasonable," said Trivedi
"Exactly a month ago, a doctor in the medicine department was roughed by a patient's family and now it's happened in the gynaecology department. We had resumed work last month after the administration assured us that they would provide better security for the staff but nothing happened," said Dr Chandrabhan, president, Resident Doctors' Association at Safdarjung Hospital.
"We want the useless private security guards at the hospital replaced by trained security guards from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)," he added.
Trivedi dismissed the demands.
"They’ll want the army next,it cannot be given," he said.
But a platoon from the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) was brought in on Tuesday evening to cool the tempers of the protesting doctors.