Day after docs’ strike ends, hospitals see surge in visits
Out-patient clinics in several government hospitals in the city received patients on Tuesday after three days of disrupted services with nearly 15,000 doctors going on strike in support of the agitating doctors from West Bengal. At several of these hospitals, the inflow of patients was more than normal.
At India’s premier hospital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where 2,000 doctors went on strike, there was a 15-20% increase in follow-up patients in the out-patient department (OPD).
“There are a fixed number of new patients accepted in each department’s clinics every day, so there could have been more who returned without getting appointments on Tuesday. However, there was a 15% to 20% increase in the number of people who were already under treatment here and might have missed appointments during the strike,” said Dr DK Sharma, medical superintendent of the hospital.
The surgeries that had to be cancelled because of the strike had to be rescheduled and many doctors spent more hours to help clear the backlog. At AIIMS, patients requiring non-emergency surgeries wait for months – sometime even a year – for their procedures.
“We cannot keep pushing surgeries every day, so it is better to reschedule the surgeries that have already been cancelled. We will try and accommodate these surgeries as soon as possible in the next available slot,” said Dr Sharma.
Across the road at Safdarjung hospital too there was a surge in the number of patients in the out-patient clinic. Nearly 1,600 resident doctors from the hospital went on a strike on Friday and Monday.
“Yes, absolutely there was a huge rush in the OPD today. I cannot give an exact number of patients who came to the clinics across departments, but if I just talk about my clinic, I saw about a 100 patients today as opposed to about 70 patients I normally see on a Tuesday,” said radiation oncologist Dr KT Bhowmik, also an additional medical superintendent of the hospital.
As for cancelled surgeries, doctors said they will try and accommodate all of them in the next two weeks. “When we went on the strike we tried to ensure that the patients are impacted as little as possible, however, the routine surgeries had to be cancelled and doctors from the surgery department are discussing what can be done, maybe they will accommodate one or two extra cases through the week to complete the cancelled surgeries,” said Dr Prakash Thakur, president of Safdarjung hospital’s resident doctors’ association.
Both hospitals together see around 22,000 patients in their OPDs every day and about 150 routine surgeries.
The trend was opposite in Delhi government’s biggest hospital Lok Nayak hospital. “Only about half the number of people that usually come to our outpatient clinics were there today. This could be because people must have heard of the strikes ongoing nationally and decided against travelling to the hospital. A lot of the patients – about 40% -- come from the neighbouring states,” said Dr Kishore Singh, medical director of the hospital.
About 80 routine surgeries that happen every day at the hospital also had to be cancelled. “There is no official plan in place, but the doctors will probably come in an hour earlier and leave an hour late and accommodate the surgeries that had to be cancelled,” said Dr Hari, president of the resident doctors’ association at the hospital.
On Monday, health services in the city were severely affected when 15,000 resident doctors from 24 government hospitals along with private hospitals and clinics remained closed.