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Private doctors joined resident doctors in their strike demanding better security forces in government hospitals on Thursday, leading to a crippling effect on healthcare services across Maharashtra. Over a lakh doctors from 12 medical associations refused to perform routine operations or check ailments, instead tending to only emergency cases.
“Most of us have kept our nursing homes shut. Only emergency patients are being catered to. It is time we show solidarity to the attacks government doctors are facing on a daily basis,” said Dr Sudhir Naik, attached with Association of Medical Consultants (AMC). He runs the 15-bedded Guru Nanak Nursing Home in Goregaon that had staff nurses looking after patients. Naik said he will visit the nursing home only in an emergency.
At Antop Hill’s Sanjeevani Medical Centre and Nursing Home, nursing staff were seen taking instructions over the phone regarding treatment of admitted patients. The medical centre at Shanmukhananda auditorium, King’s Circle, is frequented for its services in general medicine and ophthalmology. It remained shut with security guards turning patients away.
The protest by 4,500 resident doctors entered its fourth day Thursday as they continued their initial demand for immediate escalation in security forces in government hospitals and fast track of related court cases. Medical associations of gynaecologists, orthopaedics, dentists, obstetrics and others had joined in with many not reporting to corporate hospitals, clinics, government hospitals and nursing homes.
Private hospitals faced some shortage but work continued smoother than private nursing homes due to larger staff strength. “No doctor gave us notice that they will not report to work. We have residents who were available in wards, our OPDs functioned normally,” said Ajay Pande, vice president at Lilavati Hospital.
At government hospitals, routine operations screeched to a grinding halt. At KEM hospital, it was an unusually deserted campus. At Sion Hospital, police forces were posted outside OPDs. New patients were turned away and only close relatives of patients were allowed entry..
At Ghatkopar’s Rajawadi hospital, there was only one doctor attending to patients in emergency ward. The paediatric ward had over 20 children admitted with only one doctor consulting.
“We have 20 doctors across wards who are attending to emergency cases. Our doctors will not ignore cases of life and death,” said Dr Vidya Thakur, superintendent at Rajawadi hospital.