NEARLY A week after the M Y Hospital received a notice from the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) regarding duty hours of the first year junior doctors, the still grappling authorities are busy in stock taking of the situation and preparing new roasters.
Taking suo moto action after it received a copy of a letter by an as yet unidentified person A Kadam to the Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Madhya Pradesh, the MPHRC sent a notice to the M Y Superintendent Dr D K Jain asking him to file his version within four weeks.
Dr Jain, who in the first place denied to call the letter from the Commission as a notice, in turn held a meeting of all Head of the Departments on December 6 wherein the respective HoDs were asked to submit their replies to the objection raised in Kadam’s letter.
When asked if he has sent any reply to the Commission, Dr Jain said, “I have asked all the HoDs to prepare their replies. When I get all those, I will forward the same to the Commission.”
Registrar (Law) at the MPHRC (Bhopal) V A Puranik said, “The Commission will close the case if it is satisfied with the answers given by the MY authorities.”
“However, if we are not satisfied, we may call the officers concerned for further discussions,” Puranik said and declined to give further details.
A junior doctor from the Orthopaedic department, on conditions of anonymity, said, “We have been forced to sign that we have no objection to the timings of the duty roster. What can we do, our results are at stake. We cannot defy the teachers/seniors?”
Denying the charge, Head of Orthopaedic Department Dr Pradeep Bhargava said, “There is no truth in the statement. Why should we ask the students to write so?”
“And this is a directive in connection with the apex court order. So we have to abide by it. We have prepared a new roaster accordingly and I would submit the same to the Superintendent tomorrow.”
Junior Doctors’ Association president Dr Anand Rai said, “There is severe shortage of staff for so many years. It’s almost 5 years that there are no new recruitments. But in the meantime, people have been regularly retiring. So there is bound to be increased burden.”
“We have also noticed that the second year doctors junior doctors have been pushed to work harder to relieve the first year juniors as the notice asks status of only first year students,” he alleged.
In the meantime, a few students had come out with a press release yesterday claiming that they have no objection to extended working hours. The senior doctors and the Head of the Departments had a common observation that the students learn more and gain much more experience by way of working under such circumstances. It would be the students’ loss if they want to stick to fixed hour routine in a medical profession, was their refrain.
The letter by Kadam has pointed out that the junior doctors are made to work for “illegal and unhealthy” hours in some department of MY Hospital, which can have an adverse effect on the safety of poor patients.
Pointing out that some of the junior doctors are putting in as much as 100 hours of duty per week, at times one shift stretching to more than 30 hours, Kadam has alleged that these doctors are students have no service rules’ protection and the department heads force them to work this way as the students’ final assessment is in the hands of the HoDs.