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New patients turned away, surgeries cancelled as 2,000 AIIMS junior doctors go on strike

Only patients who had been receiving treatment at AIIMS were taken in for their follow-up consultation as junior doctors went on a strike to demand the suspension of a senior professor who had allegedly slapped a resident doctor.

delhi Updated: Apr 27, 2018 23:10 IST
Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
AIIMS Delhi,AIIMS strike,AIIMS doctors' strike
Resident doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) protest demanding action against a professor for allegedly slapping a junior doctor, in New Delhi.(PTI Photo)

The counters for registering new patients for out-patient clinics were closed on Friday morning at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as nearly 2,000 junior doctors went on strike.

An indefinite strike was called on Thursday to demand the suspension of a senior professor in the department of ophthalmology for slapping a resident doctor.

Only the patients who had been receiving treatment at AIIMS were taken in for their follow-up consultation.

“Only the consultants and the research faculty were manning the OPDs ( out-patient departments) and the wards and ICUs (intensive care units), hence the out-patient services had to be restricted,” said a doctor from the hospital on condition of anonymity.

“My daughter was being treated by the doctors from the medicine department. During the last visit, they noticed a fluid coming out of her ear and referred her to the ear specialist, but they said that nothing will happen today because the doctors are on strike,” said Saina Biwi, mother of three-year-old Sakina.

They waited till 2 pm in the hopes that some doctor might see them and then headed home to Bawana.

The hospital also had to cancel all scheduled surgeries because of the flash strike. On any given day, around 100 planned surgeries take place in the hospital and nearly 200 procedures are carried out at the hospital’s Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences.

“We came to the hospital today because my mother was supposed to undergo an abdominal surgery, but the doctors said that now it will happen only after three or four days and that too isn’t confirmed. We got today’s date after months; I don’t know what will happen,” said Bipin Kumar, who had travelled from his village near Patna for his mother’s treatment.

They took her to the emergency department of the hospital as she had abdominal pain.

“But the emergency (department) is also not working properly, they are taking patients in from one door and leaving them out from the other, asking them to go to Safdarjung hospital,” he said.

The hospital maintains that no emergency services, including emergency surgeries, were affected. The junior doctor who had been slapped by the faculty member took leave after the incident and went back home to Patna. “I got worried because of the political connections and the power imbibed in the faculty here. Any action taken against him will be shortlived compared to the embarrassment I will face in my life because of this,” said the junior doctor who was slapped, in his complaint to AIIMS director, Dr Randeep Guleria,

The AIIMS resident doctors’ association has alleged that this is not the first instance of harassment by the chief of ophthalmic sciences centre at the hospital. “We demand the immediate suspension of Dr Atul Kumar because the 150 resident doctors at RP Centre have said that they do not want to work with him. He often humiliates them in front of peers and patients,” said Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, president of the resident doctors’ association.

The association had a meeting with the director and the faculty association of the hospital where they were asked to call off the strike as the faculty member in question had apologised and a committee had been set up to look into the issue.

“But we do not want to call off the strike till we get written assurance that action will be taken against the professor,” said Dr Bhatti.

Out-patient services are likely to be affected on Saturday too.

The matter of suspension of the senior faculty member who allegedly slapped a resident doctor will be decided by the AIIMS administration on Saturday morning after the committee institute to investigate the matter finishes its inquiry, the resident doctors’ association said.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 19:43 IST