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Strike in Delhi shows solidarity with Bengal docs, govt hospitals affected

The outpatient clinics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Safdarjung, Lok Nayak and Guru Teg Bahadur hospitals remained barely functional, with senior faculty members treating patients.

delhi Updated: Jun 14, 2019 23:47 IST
Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
delhi,doctors strike,AIIMS strike
Doctors from Hindu Rao hospital holdup placards while on an indefinite strike demanding the release of 3 months’ salary, at Malka Ganj in New Delhi, India, on Monday, May 20, 2019. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

Services at four of the biggest tertiary care hospitals in Delhi were affected on Friday, as almost 5,000 resident doctors went on a strike, in support of the doctors from West Bengal, who were allegedly beaten by relatives of patients.

The outpatient clinics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Safdarjung, Lok Nayak and Guru Teg Bahadur hospitals remained barely functional, with senior faculty members treating patients.

These hospitals, in total, receive around 35,000 patients in their outpatient clinics, 40% of whom travel from outside Delhi for treatment. The out-patient services at AIIMS on Friday were restricted to old patients and no new OPD card was issued.

Sahoor Ahmed, a patient who was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis last month in Bareilly, was referred to AIIMS for treatment. On Friday, when he reached the hospital along with his wife and daughter, they were told that they would not get an appointment because of the strike.

“We cannot keep travelling every day, so we thought we would stay back in Delhi and meet the doctor tomorrow. But the person at the appointment centre told me that the next OPD appointment for the doctor can only be made for Wednesday. So, we have no choice but to return home. A couple of days is fine, but we cannot sleep on the pavement for five days,” said Ahmed.

Most of the nearly 100 routine surgeries that take place in the hospital had to be cancelled. “There is a waiting period of months for surgeries at AIIMS and if anyone misses their slot, they might have to wait a long time,” an official, on condition of anonymity, said.

Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan met with the AIIMS resident doctors’ association, among others, during which doctors raised the demand for immediate security intervention in West Bengal and adopting a uniform security code in government hospitals across the country.

“Heinous repeated attacks on doctors across India esp WBengal have led to this situation.Govt must pass a Law to make any attack on Docs a non-bailable offence with min 12 yr jail. Draconian Clinical Establishment Act that treats Docs as criminals must be withdrawn,” Dr Harsh Vardhan posted on Twitter.

Across the road, at Safdarjung Hospital, the out-patient services were not affected despite the 1,600 missing resident doctors. “We received 7,000 patients in the OPD, completely managed by the consultants and faculty members. The emergency department, wards and ICUs were also fully functional. Yes, we did have to cancel routine surgeries,” said Dr KT Bhowmik, additional medical superintendent of the hospital. The senior doctors worked with black bands to register their protest.

The hospital treats around 9,000 patients and undertakes at least 50 routine surgeries every day.

At Lok Nayak Hospital, where around 500 resident doctors went on the strike, the OPD services were severely impacted, with less than 2,000 patients receiving treatment, compared to the 9,000 it treats daily.

Patients also alleged that they were discharged untimely because of the strike.

Rekha Puri’s sister was admitted to the hospital with kidney disease and received regular dialysis. On Friday, she was asked to take her sister to some other hospital. “The doctors told us that there weren’t enough staff to take care of all the patients, so they wanted to discharge my sister. She is not well enough to be taken home and we did not know where else we could take her, so we asked them to let us be. They considered the matter for four hours, but discharged her after that,” she said.

She went to the nearby government hospitals — Dr Ram Manohar Lohia and Lady Hardinge — but was unable to get her admitted there. Finally, they had to go to a private hospital.

Besides government hospitals, the Delhi Medical Association also called for a strike and several private hospitals kept their out-patient clinics closed. “Several big hospitals such as Sir Ganga Ram, Maharaja Agrasen, Saroj, St Stephen’s, Akash, Balaji Action, Mata Chanan Devi, among others, kept their OPDs closed, as did many of the nursing homes,” said Dr Girish Tyagi, president, Delhi Medical Association.

First Published: Jun 14, 2019 22:31 IST