It was stalemate on the fifth day of the resident doctors strike with both the government and the agitating medicos making contrary claims. None of the protesting doctors were arrested despite Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) being in force,though most have been terminated.
State Health Commissioner Amarjeet Singh said the strike was not going to impact health and medical services in Gujarat because all interns had resumed work in the Jamnagar,Rajkot,Baroda and Surat hospitals.
In Ahmedabad also,nearly 65 interns have resumed work and we hope that resident doctors will also be back to work soon, he said.
When asked why none of the protesting doctors were arrested though ESMA had been invoked against them,Singh said the government wanted to give them an opportunity to return on their own. They are our own children, he said,adding that this was the reason why the government was treating them with kid gloves.
Meanwhile,more than 1,000 resident doctors from government medical colleges in different cities across Gujarat converged at Ahmedabad to join the strike at the Civil Hospital. They ran a parallel OPD (Out Patient Department) outside the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.
The Gujarat Association of Resident Doctors claimed in a press release that they had treated around 350-odd patients in their parallel OPDs,even as state government said the OPDs across the state functioned normally.
The resident doctors remained under the portico of the colleges entrance,sitting on tarpaulins spread on the ground. Several police vehicles and personnel were stationed in the vicinity throughout the day.
The statewide strike has now run into its fifth day,crippling healthcare services across Gujarat,as the government had to move doctors from the rural areas to fill the shortage in the main hospitals in cities and towns across the state.
The heavy rains and flooding at several places in Junagadh and Porbandar districts have only made matters worse. Rescue teams are busy evacuating and distributing relief materials to the flood-affected.
Some of the agitating resident doctors said they had been asked to assist in these areas,but have refused to go along with the government,although they are willing to go on their own. They have said they will not back down till their demands are met.
On Sunday,the government had issued showcause notices to the protesting doctors at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital and the Baroda Medical College in Vadodara,to which most of them have replied.
Meanwhile,a press release by the state government in the evening said that barring three resident doctors who had returned to work in Vadodara and one in Bhavnagar,the registration of 80 resident doctors had been terminated. Half of them are from medical colleges in Ahmedabad,they added.
In a separate press release,the GARD said they have accepted all the terminations and have also vacated the PG hostels,but have decided to continue with the strike.