Patients suffer as docs stick to Rs 10,000 hike

Govt agrees to increase stipend by Rs 5,000 HC asks doctors to call off strike State threatens ESMA.

Written by Alison Saldanha | Published: April 25, 2013 1:55 am

Govt agrees to increase stipend by Rs 5,000 HC asks doctors to call off strike State threatens ESMA.

Resident doctors of the city’s municipal hospitals — three main and 18 peripheral — continued to strike work for the second consecutive day leaving the public healthcare system in complete disarray. On Wednesday,these hospitals turned down more than 70 per cent patients and deferred most surgeries to keep emergency services running.

Responding to a PIL against the strike,Bombay High Court Wednesday directed the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) to call off the strike. The state government told the court that it has agreed to a Rs-5,000 monthly hike in stipend,against Rs 10,000 demanded by the association.

Later in the day,Dr Vijay Kumar Gavit,minister for medical education,said the state had adhered to most of MARD’s demands. “We will give the doctors a 48-hour ultimatum to withdraw the strike,failing which the government has the option of invoking Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).”

MARD,which claims membership of over 3,000 resident doctors across the state,has been demanding a Rs 10,000 hike in their current Rs 31,000 salary. The state government,on the other hand,has approved an increment of only Rs 5,000. After long hours of negotiations ended in a deadlock late Monday evening,the doctors called for a strike.

Based on statistics provided by the civic administration on the city’s three main hospitals — KEM,Nair and Sion — only 8-10 per cent of resident doctors are currently working. Close to 80 per cent of the patients have either been discharged or referred to private hospitals or their appointments have been rescheduled.

“Since today was a holiday and people knew of the strike,not many patients came to the hospitals so we could manage the situation. These doctors are an essential part of the system. If hospitals continue to run at such low capacities for four days or more,the backlog will become critical,” said Dr S J Nagda,dean of Nair Dental College.

According to Dr Preeti Mehta,acting dean of KEM hospital,the corporation’s largest hospital,of the 585 resident doctors,only 112 have been present since the strike. Till 3pm Wednesday,the hospital had 661 patients in the out-patient department (OPD) and merely 43 patients were admitted. Of the 64 operations held on an emergency basis,37 were major. “In a normal 24-hour period,5,500 patients are treated in the OPD,250 patients are freshly admitted and 200 surgeries are carried out,” she said. To tide over the situation,the hospital has roped in the teaching faculty.

At Sion hospital,of the 520 resident doctors,only 51 were present Wednesday. Only 10 operations were performed on an emergency basis. “We rescheduled a number of surgeries as we will not be able to look after the patients post-surgery at our current strength,” said Dr Avinash Supe,dean of Sion hospital.

At Nair hospital,121 doctors out of 525 were on duty. “We have 289 resident doctors on strike and 115 doctors on exam leave. We are doing the best we can in the present circumstances,” said Dr M K Sanjana,dean of Nair hospital.

MARD said the government was painting a grim picture to put pressure on them. More than a salary hike,MARD emphasised it wants implementation of the Central Residency Scheme. “While in the rest of the country,doctors are paid better stipend and work eight hours a day and 48 hours a week,we work 48 hours in two days and still provide good patient care,” said Dr Santosh Wakchaure,president of MARD.

“We had submitted our demands in 2012 but the government has still not responded. We do not mind if the increment is not paid immediately but we want it in writing that the government is committed to fulfilling our demands,” he added.

How hospitals are coping

KEM,the biggest of the three hospitals,normally treats 5,500 patients in OPD. On Wednesday,there were only 641 OPD patients

Only 64 surgeries were performed compared with 200 performed on an average every day at KEM

In Sion,only 10 emergency operations were performed. Most rescheduled as the hospital could not provide post-operative care

At Nair,besides 289 doctors on strike,115 are on examination leave

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