December 23, 2021 10:03:23 am
Shauk nahi majboori hai, ye hadtal zaroori hai (This strike is not a hobby of ours, but a necessity) — the slogan reverberated as resident doctors from across medical college and hospitals in Delhi, in protest, returned the candles that were lit by common people commemorating their service during the pandemic.
Services at Safdarjung, RML, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Lok Nayak, and Guru Teg Bahadur hospitals continued to be affected for a sixth consecutive day as the doctors protested against the delays in NEET PG counselling that has left nearly 45,000 medical students waiting to join the workforce.
With only two-thirds of resident doctors available at the hospitals, the others are severely overworked.
Lok Nayak hospital, which is usually abuzz with patients clamouring to see doctors or getting medicines, had no queues outside the consultation rooms on Wednesday afternoon. “Fewer patients are coming to the hospital now as they know that the doctors are on strike. Although all services are open and senior doctors are seeing patients, very few are coming in,” a guard posted outside the gynaecology department of the hospital said.
Afroz Zehra, 42, came to the department complaining of irregular periods and severe exhaustion. “Initially, I had gone to a private clinic in Yamuna Vihar but they asked me to get an ultrasound test done. I came here because I cannot afford to get it done privately. Three days ago, when I started feeling nauseous, I came to the hospital but no one was there. I had to go to the emergency department. They gave me some medicine and asked me to come back today,” she added.
A senior doctor from the hospital said that they are able to manage the services as some of the residents have continued working. The hospital is also a designated centre for treatment of Omicron patients.
The resident doctors have been protesting outside the Union Health Ministry’s office as well.
“Residents are the backbone of the services at these hospitals. Even though there is a threat of a surge in Covid cases, the government is not listening to us. I have attended at least five meetings with the Union Health Minister but all we have received are verbal assurances. The case is also pending before the court as the Ministry has asked for time to submit documents related to the EWS reservation,” Dr Manish Kumar, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association that is leading the nationwide protests, said.
He added that the residents will not call off the strike even if the Essential Services Maintenance Act is invoked, which declares agitations to be an offence.
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