Maharashtra strike goes on as more doctors are attacked

Updated on Mar 23, 2017 12:34 AM IST

Resident doctors said they were considering calling off the protest when they heard that a woman medical officer at Sion hospital had been assaulted by relatives of an infant

Patients wait outside KEM hospital(Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)
Patients wait outside KEM hospital(Bhushan Koyande/HT Photo)
Hindustan Times | ByAayushi Pratap and Sadaguru Pandit, Mumbai

Resident doctors protesting against a spate of attacks on their colleagues were close to ending their strike on Wednesday before another assault on a doctor put paid to any hopes of a resolution.

A senior woman medical officer at Sion hospital’s paediatric ward was allegedly assaulted by a patient’s relatives in the evening. It was the second such case at the hospital in the past four days.

Earlier, at Sangli, relatives of a patient, 27-year-old Vijay Pawar, ransacked a hospital. The police said the relatives became agitated as the hospital allegedly delayed the patient’s postmortem for nearly seven hours.

At Sion hospital, a four-month-old boy was admitted in the paediatric ward with bronchiolitis on Monday. Dr Mansi Patil, senior medical officer, was attending to the child at 7.30pm on Wednesday when she was assaulted, said resident doctors.

“Today, five relatives, including the patient’s mother and four others, including two men, were present in the ward and one of them hit the doctor on her hand,” said Dr Gagan Pratap, a resident doctor at the hospital.

“They also threatened her, saying that doctors should be met with such behaviour if they don’t perform their duties,” he added. The security guard was out for dinner when the incident took place, said another resident doctor. One of the main demands of resident doctors, who have been on strike since Monday, that the state’s June 2016 order, allowing only two relatives per patient, be implemented.

“The latest incident happened just when we were thinking of ending the strike. Three hours after the incident, no the hospital has not registered a police complaint,” Dr Pratap added.

Deputy commissioner of police N Ambika said, “We are still verifying the complaint. The police are at the hospital. No one has come to the police station.”

A senior doctor at KEM Hospital said, “There was a possibility of achieving an amicable solution through talks but now the resident doctors will continue their mass bunk until the promises of state government are implemented.”

Resident doctors, who had awoken to show-cause notices from the deans of Sion, Nair, KEM and JJ Hospitals, attended meetings with medical education minister Girish Mahajan in the evening. “We were still in the meeting when messages of us having backed out of the protest started circulating. We were yet to reach a settlement at the time,” said Yashwardhan Kabra, of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD). After the meeting, MARD office-bearers resumed work, saying they didn’t have control over individual resident doctors who continued the protest.

A resident doctor at KEM said that despite the notices, they will continue to protest. “The state government is also guilty of contempt of court if they point finger at us for not adhering to the high court’s directives. Let them expel us, they are in no position to pressurise us by expelling over 4,000 resident doctors across the state,” said the doctor.

Some doctors said they were under pressure from their own families to resume work but added that the high court’s order on Tuesday only strengthened their resolve to protest. “With due respect to the high court, everybody who is threatened with violence deserves protection. The high court order disappointed many of us,” said a resident from Sion Hospital.

However, the protestors continued to receive support from doctors across the country. The Medical College of Kuttack released a letter on social media condemning the attacks and supporting their fellow doctors, while doctors at AIIMS, Delhi, treated patients while wearing helmets to show their support. Around 20,000 resident doctors at government hospitals in Delhi will go on mass casual leave between 9am and 4pm today while ensuring that emergency services are not interrupted.

“If the issue is not resolved, doctors in other states such as Punjab, Chandigarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh may also join the protest,” said Dr Pankaj Solanki, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA).

Read more: End strike by this evening or face 6 months’ pay cut, Maharashtra govt warns doctors

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