Healthcare services hit as doctors pan-India go on strike

Thousands of patients suffered on Monday after the Indian Medical Association had given the June 17 doctors’ strike call with the withdrawal of non-essential health services across the country.

Ranvijay SinghRanvijay Singh   17 Jun 2019 2:55 PM GMT

Healthcare services at several government and private hospitals in parts of the country were hit after doctors decided to boycott work for a day on Monday in support of their striking colleagues in West Bengal.

All outpatient departments (OPDs), routine operation theatre services and ward visits will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am on Monday, June 17 to 6 am Tuesday, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had said.

Thousands of patients suffered on Monday after the IMA had given the June 17 doctors' strike call with the withdrawal of non-essential health services across the country.

"My son is mentally unstable. He is suffering from some gynaecological problem. He is bleeding from his private parts. We showed it to a doctor in Raebareli. He ruined his case. So, we came to Lucknow today, but doctors here are protesting," said Rajendra Singh, 48, who is from Raebareli.

He was waiting outside Lucknow's King George Medical University (KGMU).

The doctors had called for a nationwide protest on June 11 after two junior doctors were assaulted and seriously injured at NRS hospital in Bengal.

On Monday evening, the junior doctors in West Bengal met with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has promised increased security measures to the medical fraternity.

Outside KGMU, OPD centre, Siyaram 46, was sitting under a tree. He arrived in Lucknow on Monday morning from a village called Bahraich with his wife, but was stuck because of the strike.

"My wife has swelling on her body. He entire body aches. I have to spend Rs 1,000-1,500 to come to Lucknow. Had I known about the strike, I wouldn't have come. I earn Rs 100-200 per day. Rs 1,500 is a huge amount for me. Next time I will have to take a loan from someone," he said.

Aqil Khan, 30, who had come from Kanpur along with his mother, said: "My mother has blood cancer. I have to come here once a month. Her medicines got over. They had given me today's appointment. Now I am going back. I will come back only after the strike is called off."

Shivam Mishra, 27, a final year student at KGMU, who took part in the protests said: "We have kept the OPD shut. We had informed people about it through newspapers and social media. we are not heartless. The trauma and emergency services are open. But if our demands are not met with, we will continue to protest."

The protesting doctors said keeping in mind rising incidents of violence against junior doctors, the Centre should consider enacting law to protect law to protect medical professionals from violence. The doctors were raising slogans like 'Save the Saviour', among others.

Suraj Kumar, 28, an intern with KGMU, said: "We are fighting for our safety. We do our best to save patients. But we are not gods. Sometimes we are not able to save patients. But that does not give anyone any right to beat us up or kills us."

Mamata meets protesting doctors

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's meeting with protesting doctors on Monday indicated a breakthrough, with the medics indicating that the strike is likely to be called off. There has been no formal announcement yet.

While the doctors said the Chief Minister had "good intentions" and dubbed her a "guardian", Ms Banerjee accepted their demands, suggesting a 10-point plan to ensure security at the hospitals.

The meeting, held in presence of the media, came as hospitals around the country suspended all but essential services in solidarity with the Bengal doctors. The matter has reached the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear a petition about the safety of doctors.

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