As the strike by junior doctors in Bihar's premier government-run hospital in Patna entered its sixth day on Sunday, authorities threatened action and called for an end to the strike that has affected thousands of patients.
About 500 junior doctors of the Patna Medical College and Hospital have struck work demanding payment of the increased stipend that was promised to them earlier. Their strike has already claimed 50 lives, relatives of patients allege.
"The government will have to act tough against striking doctors after the state human rights commission as well as the Patna High Court expressed unhappiness over the strike and favoured action," an official of the health department told IANS here.
Additional secretary (health) Sanjeev Kumar Hans has told the striking doctors to end the strike or face action. Hans said the state human rights commission had even suggested that the registration of the agitating medicos be cancelled.
The commission also directed the government to pay compensation to the families of those patients who have died due to the strike.
Emergency services have been hit and scores of surgeries have been postponed. Hospital authorities have sought the help of the health department to cope with the situation and have asked for 100 doctors from various parts of the state.
In the last six days, the Patna Medical College and Hospital has witnessed an exodus of patients, mainly those who can afford expensive private clinics. A number of poor patients, who came for treatment from across the state, have been victims of the ongoing strike.
The striking junior doctors say they were forced to go on strike as the government was not abiding by its promise.
"In August after an assurance from the Bihar government of a hike in stipend, we withdrew our five-day-long strike. But we were not paid," a doctor said.