A frail V P Sood, 83, took the bus from Panchkula to PGIMER early Monday morning so that he could reach the OPD by 8.30 am. The senior citizen, who had recently undergone a heart surgery but was having some problems of late, made it on time only to be told by the security guards that the doctors were on strike. But hoping against hope, he waited for five hours till 1.30 pm. Tired and hungry, he was almost near tears when he decided to return. “I agree what happened with doctors in West Bengal was wrong. But what is our fault? Why are patients being made to suffer? Coming to PGI itself is a herculean task for a person my age,” Sood fumed.
Most of the OPDs at PGI wore a deserted look as people, regardless of the distance they had travelled, were turned back by guards. The Association of Resident Doctors had announced that they will be on an indefinite strike from Monday but ICU and emergency services will work. Following this, the PGI administration had appealed to the faculty, most of which was on leave to attend to patients at OPDs. However, not many turned up as they too wanted to show solidarity with the ARD.
Some had no option but to decide to spend Monday night in the corridors of the institute hoping that the strike will end by Tuesday. “We have come from Saharanpur to show our four-year-old son. He had some problem in the eye. We will camp here in the corridor itself,” Rajesh Kumar at the Advanced Eye Centre told Newsline.
Vishnu Gopal standing next to Rajesh said, “A patient is the most helpless person. For doctors to condemn the West Bengal attack, there can be other ways to show resentment. Why put someone else’s life at risk by not working?” Baljinder Singh, 55, who was there with his daughter from Fatehgarh Sahib, asked, “If some incident takes place with an Army jawan, will the entire Army go on strike? Doctors must know that patients treat them like God. Please understand that you are a doctor first and everything else later.”
A statement issued by the PGIMER, however, stated that they had just reduced the registration timings of OPD by two hours. While on a daily basis, over 9,500 patients show up at the PGIMER, on Monday there were 3,596 patients registered in various OPDs while 23 surgeries were performed till 5 pm.
“All the emergency services, including labour room services and intensive care units, functioned in a routine manner as these services were exempted from the strike,” a release by the PGIMER stated. In the evening, ARD announced that they were calling off the strike. Services will resume from Tuesday normally. It was stated that as demands of doctors had been met by the West Bengal CM, they were calling off the strike.
A protest march was taken out by the Association of Resident Doctors in support of the doctor who was attacked in West Bengal. The Indian Medical Association, Chandigarh, also submitted to the senior administrative officers of the city a memorandum of their demands, including immediate adoption of an existent state law for prevention of violence against doctors and creation of a hotline with a quick response team headed by a senior police official to pre-empt such incidents. The memorandum was submitted to the Home-cum-Health Secretary Arun Kumar Gupta. A protest march was also taken out in the evening in association with resident doctors and faculty of PGIMER along with doctors of GMSH-16 to Sector 17 Plaza.