By Steffy Thevar. Photographs By Azad Shrivastav
Docs on strike, patients left unattended
Mumbai govt. hospitals patients suffer
Doctors across the city were instructed not to go on strike by the court. Yet, till the civic authorities can step up to stop the rampant assaults on resident doctors across government hospitals, doctors across the city yesterday started what they are calling an indefinite, Mass Leave. Soured negotiations have left them angry and now the repercussions will be faced by helpless and needy patients, until the Mayor takes their demands seriously.
Negotiations between Mayor and resident doctors turns futile, mass leave to continue
On the first day on 'mass leave' called by doctors to protest against the constant assault on resident doctors, it was the patients who were left unattended even after waiting for hours. Many senior citizens kids with plaster and women were seen waiting outside the hospital gate as they were not allowed inside. As the chief association of resident doctors, MARD (Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors ) could not call for an official strike as per court orders, resident doctors took it upon themselves to write individual letters to the respective deans and call off work from Monday.
All resident doctors from Sion hospital, while quite a few from Nair, KEM and JJ called for a 'mass leave' and stopped work, which left the patients, who usually are from the lower middle class and from slums, unattended and disturbed. The patients also complained of lack of co-ordination. In this month alone, three assaults on doctors have been reported from across the state. This has caused a stir in the medical fraternity and more and more doctors are joining the movement. Although the court did order them to not call an official strike, the doctors have now resorted to their individual capacities and have called for this 'mass leave' and only emergency cases were attended to.
One of the senior citizens who was waiting for about four hours said, “I have no idea as to when we will be allowed to enter inside the hospital but we have been asked to wait and so we are waiting here.” Another lady questioned, “We heard of the doctors protesting because they were beaten what about those lives which are lost due to the negligence of doctors?”
The protest by the resident doctors in Mumbai began a day after a polio inflicted doctor, Dr Rohit Kumar, was assaulted by the relative of a kidney failure patient who died. This led to a series of protests by resident doctors, first from Sion, then from KEM, JJ and Nair.
To solve the crises between the patients and doctors safety, an official meeting between MARD, IMA (Indian Medical Association) and Mayor was arranged. However the meeting turned out to be futile as only a few conditions put forward by the resident doctors were not fulfilled. The mayor on the other hand warned the doctors to pull back the strike or else face legal action. Mayor Mahadeshwar said, “We will ensure better security in the hospitals but the doctors have to withdraw their strike and get back to work or else face legal action.”
The BMC has now ordered 400 more armed policemen to be deployed in hospitals till Saturday and 300 more till 1st of April. The civic body has also promised to start a pass system for relatives. Only those relatives with relevant passes would be allowed to enter inside the hospital premises. Those found to be inside the hospital without relevant passes will face legal action as per the orders of the BMC. The passes will be of different and distinct colors which the relatives will have to show while inside the hospital. The representatives were also promised that an alarm system would be placed in all hospitals wherein an alarm can be raised in case of emergency. The CCTV footage from all hospitals will also be used to identify miscreants and punish them accordingly.
Despite of all these promises, the doctor representatives seems to be unsatisfied and said that the 'mass leave' would continue thus further adding to the woes of the patients. The resident doctors have presented about 10 conditions, out of which only a few were accepted. 'Doctors are often being assaulted by the relatives of patients and the administration's promises are only on paper. We would continue our 'mass leave' till we get assurance of our safety and stop feeling threatened.” said Dr H.R Nandish and Dr Saharoon Sonawane while talking to the media. They also added that although the mayor has warned of legal action if the doctors do not get back to work, resident doctors will chalk out further strategy.
The resident doctors wanted a written official letter from the mayor instead of just oral promises and so they are planning to carry forward with the 'mass leave'. IMA has also pledged support to the resident doctors on the issue.