THE TWO-DAY-LONG strike by more than 1,200 resident doctors of PGI to press their demands was called off by the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) late on Tuesday night.
This followed a three-hour-long meeting with the ARD representatives and senior faculty members, headed by PGI director Yogesh Chawla.
ARD said that the strike was called off after their demands were accepted by the PGI administration during the meeting. However, there was resentment among a group of residents who did not favour calling off the strike.
“We have called off the strike as our demands have been met. We have been given various deadlines by the administration regarding our demands,” Dr Seran Kumar Reddy, president of ARD, told Chandigarh Newsline late on Tuesday night. “From Wednesday, resident doctors will resume their duties.”
However, the PGI administration didn’t invite the residents for any talks till late afternoon.
Around 1,200 resident doctors had gone on a strike since Sunday night in protest against assault on a resident doctor by a family member of a 72-year-old woman who died during treatment at the institute. The strike affected the work at OPDs which caused harassment to thousands of patients. Residents posted in the OPD emergencies and trauma centre were the only ones working.
Thousands of patients were again left disappointed on Tuesday after the PGI administration didn’t issue any registration card after 9 am. According to PGI, only 4,000 patients were examined at the out patient departments on Tuesday.
“People are suffering and administration is not doing anything. It is surprising that resident doctors are behaving like this which is causing harassment to people,” said Ram Singh, a Yamunanagar resident who had come for the treatment of his 10-year-old daughter at the OPD. “The administration should take steps to end the stalemate.”
“My father needs immediate medical intervention. But we were informed that doctors are on strike,” said Gurmakh Singh, a Moga resident who waited for one hour at the OPD. “I never expected that such things can happen in PGI.”
Earlier in the day, ARD, which represents 1,500 junior and senior residents of the institute, served a notice on PGI saying that they would stop providing emergency services at the premier health institute from Tuesday evening. They, however, continued the services till late Tuesday night.
All the heads of PGI departments met twice to discuss the issue. During the meeting, strategies were devised to deal with the patient care if the residents stopped working in the emergencies.
During a press briefing in the afternoon, ARD blamed the PGI administration for creating a “divide” among the residents. “Administration is doing propaganda that what we have done is wrong. They are using a divide-and-rule policy, they are dividing the residents,” said Dr Reddy.
It “pains”, he said, to continue the strike for the second day. “The doctor-patient relations are worsening a lot. There is no proper infrastructure in the hospital; it lacks beds and space,” he said.
Reddy said that the administration had been informed from time to time, but they had given only assurances. “In August 2013, we had taken up the same issues which we have raised today. If we compare both the meetings, the issues are the same. It is three years but nothing has happened. They are falsely claiming that they have sorted out all the problems,” he said.
“Administration is clearly diverting the issue that the resident doctors are affecting the patient care services, which is not true,” said ARD general secretary Dr Saravanan. “The patient care has been affected due to lack of action and ignorance of the administration.”
Asked about a senior faculty member holding some “elements” responsible for the protest, Dr Reddy said, “They have already started the divide-and-rule policy.”
PGI director Yogesh Chawla said that they had agreed to all the demands. However, he added that the administration might invoke the Essential Services Maintenance (ESMA) Act in the institute. “We will have to take a call on it. I cannot alone think about it. We have that in mind. Certainly, we might,” he said.
Asked about the anger among the residents, he said they were overburdened with work. He added that he was unaware if the same demands were raised in 2013.
On the emergency rush, Chawla said that the institute would make a huge emergency and trauma centre at Sarangpur