The day-long strike by doctors at AIIMS, Safdarjung, Lok Nayak and GTB hospitals Friday, as a mark of protest against attacks on doctors in West Bengal, left hundreds of patients in the lurch, as out-patient department (OPD) services and routine surgeries were suspended. Emergency services, however, were not hit.
Naresh Kumar, a Bareilly resident who came to AIIMS with his wife, said: “We reached the campus at 5 am today, considering the queue for OPD registration is always long. But we were informed that no new patients will be registered due to the strike. Doctors attend to patients thrice a week; now we will have to wait till Monday.” Diagnosed with high blood pressure, his wife has been referred to AIIMS for further treatment.
Hundreds of routine surgeries at top hospitals were cancelled due to the ongoing protest. Sitting outside GTB hospital with her four-year-old daughter was Lalita. The mother-daughter duo were referred to the emergency ward since OPD services were not operational.
“Doctors have asked us to come back on Monday. They have prescribed a medicine for the time being,” she said while stepping out of the hospital’s gate.
Meanwhile, faculty members stepped up to conduct emergency surgeries and attend to critical patients. At Delhi government’s Lok Nayak Hospital, only 2,000 patients were treated Friday, while the hospital sees around 7,000 patients on a daily basis. “We could treat around 2,000 patients only since OPD services were completely shut. Only emergency cases were taken up by senior faculty members,” said Dr Kishore Singh, medical director of Lok Nayak Hospital.
The Resident Doctors’ Association of Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) had also decided to join the protest late Thursday night.
Mukesh, an auto driver diagnosed with a brain tumour, said: “We waited for two months to get an appointment, now I have to go through the entire process again.”
(With inputs from Saumya Rastogi and Ritupar Pathy)