On Friday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis criticised resident doctors, who went on strike against the attacks on their colleagues by patients’ relatives, for being ‘adamant’ and ‘insensitive’ towards patients.
The doctors have been criticised for paralysing the city’s public health care system for the past five days with their strike, but the doctors have said that they are overworked and are being made scapegoats of an ‘ineffective healthcare system’. A first-year resident doctor from KEM Hospital’s medicine department, one of the busiest in the hospital, said that he puts in more than 100 hours of work each week. “I finish my 24 hours official duty at the emergency ward and head straight to the general ward to see other patients are already admitted,” he said. On an average, each day, there are 35 new admissions in the ward, he said.
Along with treating the patients, there are other errands that he ends up doing daily in the absence of medical attendants. “I, like the 47 resident doctors in my department, do the job of shifting a patient from one ward to the other, moving the ventilator from one bed to the other and carry trolleys from one floor to the other,” he said. “After working for 48 hours straight, I am over-stretched,” he added.
A senior doctor from KEM Hospital called the resident doctors the ‘backbone’ of the public health care system.
“Their working conditions are appalling. They do the work of accompanying the patient to the X-ray facility, collecting their blood samples, explaining the prescription to relatives,” he said. “Till the government does not invest in improving the infrastructure, it is unlikely that things will change much,” he said.
Resident doctors said their demand for better security is a result of day-to-day experiences with stress-ridden relatives. A senior medical officer, Mihir Trivedi, 28, from Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital’s ophthalmology department said a mother of a five-year old patient hurled a shoe at him last fortnight because she was upset with the long waiting time. “She entered and screamed at the first doctor she saw. She shouted ‘don’t sit here if you all don’t want to do your jobs’, took out her sandal and flung it at me,” he said. The ophthalmology department with 16 resident doctors attends to 600 patients every day. While he refrained from filing an FIR, he said the long queues and waiting timings were not in his hands.