About 4,500 resident doctors across public medical colleges in the state joined the doctors from Sir JJ Hospital who are on strike on Friday, paralysing medical services across Maharashtra. The strike, which began with 12 doctors from ophthalmology department at JJ Hospital refusing to work, has turned into a full-blown stir exposing the strained relationship between students and teachers at medical colleges.
The resident doctors at Sir JJ hospital have alleged mental and physical harassment by Dr TP Lahane, who is also the dean of the hospital, and head of the opthalmology department, Dr Ragini Parekh. They have also claimed that the two do all the surgeries themselves, giving the students little opportunity to learn surgical skills even though the hospital is a teaching facility. The doctors want the two surgeons to be shifted out of the hospital.
“If no action is taken against them (Dr Lahane and Dr Parekh), the harassment will only continue. It is not just them, many teachers tend to get violent with students and this culture should stop,” said a resident doctor involved with the strike. Dr Lahane said that complaints about teachers have been looked at. He said that he has received complaints from many resident doctors against other head of departments at the hospital. “We have resolved such issues amicably in the past also. I have complaints against other professors also,” said Dr Lahane.
Dr Parmeshwar Satpathy, head of the resident students’ association at JJ Hospital said that the strike is a result of the discontent among students for the past few years. “In 2013, the students had complained about similar issues. Most times, we sit across the table and resolve the issues, but this time the students are not ready to do so,” said Dr Satpathy.
The deadlock between the students and administration has left patients in the lurch. Take the case of Mukesh Gupta who needs to undergo a surgery for kidney stones. “Nurses told me that the operation will not happen any time soon as doctors are on strike,” said Gupta, admitted at KEM Hospital, Parel. At JJ Hospital where most surgeries are postponed indefinitely, patients are the worst-hit. “My brother-in-law has been admitted in the hospital for the past five days. He has very high fever since last night and not a single doctor has come to visit him today,” said, Rama Idekar, a resident of Malad. The medical education department is likely to invoke Maharashtra Essential Services and Maintenance (MESMA) Act on the doctor. The law allows the government to take punitive measures against citizens who disrupt essential services like public transport and medical care. “We will call them for negotiations on Saturday. We don’t want hospital service to be affected,” said Dr Pravin Shingare, director of directorate of medical education and research.