Left with no other option, hundreds of poor patients in Patna prayed for an end to the doctors' strike that entered its third day on Thursday, officials said.
About 500 junior doctors have struck work-demanding payment of the increased stipend that was promised to them earlier. Their strike has already claimed a dozen lives.
Emergency services have been hit and dozens 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 three days, the Patna Medical College and Hospital has witnessed an exodus of patients, mainly those who can afford expensive private clinics. "More than 300 patients have been shifted to private clinics in Patna in the last 48 hours," a hospital staff member said.
A number of poor patients, who came for treatment from across the state, have been victims of the ongoing strike.
"Hundreds of poor patients were left at god's mercy. They have been praying for divine blessings to end the strike," a hospital official said.
Raj Kumar Paswan, a landless Dalit from Khagaria district, said that he brought his son for medical treatment but the strike had dampened his hopes. "We are praying to god to end the strike soon. How long will we have to wait like this?" Paswan told IANS.
Paswan is one of the many people who are restless and frustrated because of the ongoing strike.
"We came here for my husband's treatment but the strike forced us to pray for its early end," Parvati Devi from Nalanda district said.
Locals too are facing problems. Take the case of Yogendra Kumar, a Patna High Court official, who underwent an operation on his left thigh Nov 5. Kumar alleged that doctors forcefully discharged him against his wishes.
"I was forced to shift by hospital officials after the strike," Kumar said. He alleged that doctors told him to shift to a private clinic if he wanted proper treatment.
Meanwhile, the striking junior doctors said they were forced to go on strike as the government was not sticking to its promise. The state government has failed to pay us the increased stipend it promised.
"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," said a doctor.
The state government has asked the hospital authorities to hold a meeting with the junior doctors and persuade them to end their strike.
State Health Minister Nand Kishore Yadav has described the strike as unjustified.