Doctors are fuming over the district health department's decision to deploy them on "VVIP duty" at two grand events — Kabaddi World Cup final on Saturday and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's rally on December 21 — this month.
Eight health teams, each headed by a doctors, would be deployed at the kabaddi final on Saturday. The doctors to be deployed on duty would be from the civil hospital and health centres in the district.
A doctor at a government dispensary in the city, who did not wish to be named, said, "We have been overburdened with work. As it is, we are already under a lot of pressure; the special duty will further burden us."
"The government should not forget that our job is to provide patient care, not be deployed on VVIP duty," he added. The health department has also deployed teams to ensure that food served during the kabaddi final is safe for consumption. "Apart from our teams, five food-sampling teams from other districts will be on duty during the final match," said district health officer Dr Abnash Kumar.
Pakistan Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif will be the chief guest during the final match. The doctors would have to again battle it out on December 21, as Modi would be addressing a rally in Jagraon that day. Dr Hardeep Singh, president of the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association, demanded separate staff and ambulances for such events: "It is the patients and doctors who suffer because of such events. We are being forced to do VVIP duties. The authorities should take steps to let doctors first provide care to the patients."
Contacted, Ludhiana assistant civil surgeon Dr KS Saini, however, shrugged off the criticism, saying that the doctors had been in such a way that work at the civil hospital and health centres would not be affected. "Health services will not suffer. Four orthopaedics and as many medical specialists have been deployed for the kabaddi final."