Patients faced inconvenience on Monday as doctors at government and a few private hospitals in the national capital boycotted work to show solidarity with their striking colleagues in Kolkata over the issue of security, and medicos at AIIMS too joined the stir after a doctor was allegedly manhandled by a patient’s attendants.
Doctors at the Centre-run AIIMS, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital, and RML Hospital, and Delhi government’s healthcare facilities such as GTB Hospital and DDU Hospital, along with some private hospitals withdrew non-essential medical services such as OPD, and held protests.
Outpatient departments (OPDs) and routine operation theatre services have been shut down. However, emergency and ICU services continue to function in these facilities.
Resident Doctors’ Association of the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), which earlier had decided not to join the strike, announced withdrawal of all non-essential services from 12 noon till 6 am on Tuesday, after a junior doctor at its trauma centre was allegedly manhandled on Sunday by the attendants of a patient.
The medico at the Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre was “manhandled and abused” for “giving preferential care to a critical patient”, the RDA claimed in a statement.
Police said that they have a received a complaint that the doctor was restrained from performing his duties. Two attendants of the patient have been detained and a case has been registered, they said.
Doctors at several hospitals in Delhi attended to patients wearing bandages on forehead, black arm-bands and some even put on helmets as a sign of protest.
The protesting doctors are demanding a comprehensive central legislation to check violence against doctors and other medical professionals at hospitals.
“We once again urge the West Bengal administration to fulfil the demands of the striking doctors and resolve the matter amicably at the earliest in the best interest of the general public,” a statement issued by the RDA said.
Members of several resident doctors associations also took out marches in their campuses to lodge protest in the city.
Many patients were aware of the stir on Monday which comes after scores of doctors in Delhi had boycotted work and held demonstrations on Friday and Saturday, but many still turned up at the facilities only to be turned away or wait for long hours.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) had given the strike call with the withdrawal of nonessential health services across the country on Monday. IMA members also staged a dharna at its headquarters here.
Junior doctors in West Bengal are on strike since last Tuesday after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured allegedly by relatives of a patient who died at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata.
The IMA had launched a four-day nationwide protest from Friday over the Kolkata incident and wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers.
A delegation of IMA, Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, United Resident and Doctors Association of India (URDA) and Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) also met Union Health Minister over the last three days and submitted representation to him seeking a central law.
A senior official at a private hospital, who did not wish to be named, said, “Few doctors at our hospital either shut their OPD services as they had one on Friday, and some wore black arm-bands in solidarity.”
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence.
The apex medical body, IMA, however, demanded a comprehensive central law in dealing with violence on doctors and healthcare staff, and in hospitals.
Security measures and the determinants leading to violence should also be addressed, it said in a statement.
Exemplary punishment for perpetrators of violence should be a component of the central law and suitable amendments should be brought in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the IMA said.
The IMA had said all non-essential services, including outdoor patient department (OPD) services, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am on Monday to 6 am Tuesday.
Emergency and casualty services will continue to function, it said.