Junior doctors across some of the nine government-run medical colleges in the state abstained from duty on Monday as part of their 48-hour token strike to protest, what they called, attack on doctors in Muzaffarpur last Thursday. They are seeking protection of doctors and action against the guilty, among two other demands.
Patient care was partially affected across some government- run medical colleges, including the premier Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) and the Nalanda Medical College Hospital (NMCH) in Patna. Senior doctors had to double up for junior doctors. Around 22 doctors were deputed to the NMCH and another 15 to the PMCH from the peripheries to ensure that healthcare was not disrupted.
Even as hospital administration of the PMCH, NMCH and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) claimed that healthcare was largely unaffected, patients had to wait for their turn in long queues at the outdoor patient department (OPD) at each of the medical colleges.
Patients at these health facilities complained that senior doctors were not available. “Senior doctors made ‘notional’ rounds of the wards in the morning and thereafter the patients were left at the mercy of nurses,” said Binod Kumar Mandal, whose uncle was admitted at the Hathwa ward of the PMCH.
Sudama Kumar Singh, 30, from Kaimur, and Kamta Singh of Phulwarisharif who had brought her five-year-old daughter Sakshi Kumari to the OPD of the skin and venereal diseases claimed that they had to wait for nearly three four hours for their turn to consult a specialist at the PMCH.
Apart from security, junior doctors are demanding that the government decision to impose Rs 15 lakh financial penalty on those opting out of a postgraduate medical course and Rs 25 lakh on those not willing to serve for three years in rural areas, after completion of postgraduation, should not be extended to students who are already enrolled. Besides, the PG students also want a hike in their monthly stipend, which is now between Rs 45,000 and Rs 52,000.
Members of the Junior Doctors’ Association (JDA), who met the principal secretary on Monday evening, claimed that the government sought time to act on their demands.
The doctors also took out a march to express solidarity with their brethren at the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH). PMCH JDA secretary Dr Binay Kumar said the strike would continue on Tuesday. “We will continue with emergency services, while boycotting duty at OPD and wards,” he said.
However, SKMCH superintendent Dr G K Thakur claimed that junior doctors had withdrawn their agitation and resumed work there from 1.30pm. He admitted that OPD and in-patient care was partially affected, as only 150 OPD patients, against an average daily patient footfall of 2,000, could get medical consultation on Monday.
Government authorities claimed that outside Patna, excluding Muzaffarpur, the strike had negligible effect.
Named FIRs had been lodged against 22 junior doctors of the SKMCH, Muzaffarpur, for the ugly clash between doctors and local residents, who supported attendants of a woman patient, denied admission last Thursday. The doctors had claimed that they were roughed up by the patient’s attendants over delay in admission.
The following day, doctors resorted to arson, setting on fire 10 vehicles, including four private ambulances, while thrashing their drivers, prompting action by the district administration.
(With inputs from Ajay Kumar in Muzaffarpur)
- Adequate security for doctors on duty
- Exemption from penalty for students already enrolled in PG courses
- Revision in monthly stipend of PG medicos. They get between Rs 45,000 and Rs 52,000