Thirty two patients admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) have died amid a strike by junior doctors that entered its fourth day on Sunday, authorities said.
"Eleven patients died in the last 24 hours alone (Saturday and Sunday) due to lack of doctors and treatment in the hospital," a government official said.
Six patients died during the first 12 hours of the strike beginning Wednesday, followed by 15 on Thursday and Friday, he said.
The official said lack of doctors in the emergency ward led to most deaths. But the government is yet to confirm a single death due to the ongoing strike.
More than 400 junior doctors went on an indefinite strike Wednesday evening, demanding a hike in stipend and payment of salary instead of stipend.
"We are not going to end the strike following the state government's decision to raise stipend. We want the state government to pay monthly salary to us instead of stipend," PMCH Junior Doctors Association president Rajiv Babu said Sunday.
A leader of the junior doctors' association said their demand for hike in stipend has been pending for the last couple of years now.
"We are getting stipend of Rs 13,000 in the first year, Rs 14,000 in the second year and Rs.15,000 in the third year of post-graduation. We are demanding that this amount be increased to Rs 22,500 at par with some of the neighbouring states," he said.
The strike has badly hit emergency, outdoor and surgery services of the hospital.
Most of the wards of the hospital wore a deserted look as hundreds of patients were forced to shift to private nursing homes. "Those who cannot afford treatment outside have been left in the lurch and and waiting for treatment despite the strike," a nurse told IANS.
She said the strike has become a death trap for poor patients who are helpless and can not go for private treatment. "It is really a bad situation. Neither the striking doctors nor the government realise the problem. You can imagine that the emergency ward has few patients. In normal days, the emergency ward remains overcrowded and patients have to be treated on the floor due to shortage of beds," she said.