Updated: December 29, 2021 7:31:31 am
With only senior faculty members and consultants treating patients, services at almost all major government hospitals in Delhi have been affected for 12 days now. The situation was worse on Tuesday, with several smaller hospitals also lending their support to the protesting resident doctors after they were allegedly manhandled by the police on Monday while being detained during their march to the Supreme Court.
The outpatient clinics were disrupted briefly at Safdarjung hospital, which has become the epicentre of the protest, on Tuesday morning as resident doctors from across medical college hospitals in the city started gathering there. “The doctors asked for the registration counters to be shut in the morning. With several people still in the queue, patients started banging on the glass counters,” said a guard on duty at the registration area. Registration of new patients at the hospital happens only between 8:30 am and 10:30 am, instead of 12:30 pm as earlier, and no afternoon OPDs are conducted because of the strike, the guard informed.
For Sunder Ram, 47, a contractual cook at the Army Research and Referral hospital canteen, it was a wasted trip to the hospital. “I have been receiving diabetes and hypertension treatment at the hospital for a couple of months. I do not come early morning because the queues are long but even at 10 am I couldn’t get a registration. I went up to the clinic but there was no one there. I cannot get my medicines till a doctor prescribes it again,” he said. He was turned away from the OPD department last Tuesday as well.
Sonu Kanojia, a resident of Trilokpuri, has been taken to sleeping outside the hospital emergency with his nephew. He has been diagnosed with typhoid and his nephew with epilepsy. “The doctors saw us a few days back and prescribed medicines, but some of them are not available at the hospital pharmacy. I do not have any money left to buy medicines. So, we are waiting for the strike to get over, then maybe we will get the medicines or doctors will prescribe something else,” he said. Kanojia works at a shop that prints wedding cards; he hasn’t been working since he fell sick a month ago.
The wards in the hospital were deserted, with a ward meant for cancer patients, accessed by the reporter, being completely empty. “No new admissions have been happening, usually this place is always full. But now slowly even those who were admitted before have completed their treatment and have been discharged,” the guard on duty at the ward said.
At AIIMS, across the street, patients referred from other government hospitals queued up for hours. The hospital, which is one of the only big hospitals staying away from the strike, had initially said that they would join the protest on Tuesday if no action was taken but decided to continue working later in the day when the resident doctors were called for a meeting by the Union Health Minister.
At the main emergency entrance of the hospital, which has now been moved to the old OPD block, patients lay on a double file of stretchers under the extended roof outside to shelter themselves from the rain. They were called inside the emergency two at a time.
Durgesh, who came along with her brother, said that he was suddenly discharged from Safdarjung hospital two days ago even though his condition had not improved. Her brother, 22-year-old Jeetu, was under treatment for a swollen liver and water retention for a month at the hospital.
“His condition has not improved and yet he was discharged. The doctors there even admitted that he needed further treatment. Then someone referred us to AIIMS. We came to the hospital last night and queued up at 1 am for the OPD appointment. When we went there, the doctors just asked us to go to the emergency. We have been standing for more than five hours,” she said. All hospitals where services are affected have been referring patients to AIIMS.
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