Around 4,000 resident doctors across Maharashtra have gone on an indefinite strike starting on Thursday in support of their demands, severely affecting healthcare facilities in the state. The hospitals are juggling with remaining staff to handle the patient load, specially thousands visiting the out patient departments.
According to hospital administrations, lecturers, assistant professors and professors have been asked to report on duty to compensate for the gap in available medical practitioners.
Dr TP Lahane, dean at the state run JJ Hospital, said that 413 resident doctors are on strike and 700 senior level doctors have been called on duty. “So far, we have been able to attend patients on OPD basis and all surgeries are happening as per schedule,” he said.
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Dr Sagar Mundada, president of Medical Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) – a body that regulates the resident doctors and their demands across Maharashtra – the strike will continue until a written assurance or government resolution is passed by the medical education department promising to fullfill their demands.
While medical education minister Vinod Tawde on Wednesday tweeted that all the demands have been positively accepted by the government following a meeting with members of MARD, the resident doctors claim a similar meeting took place on June 12 with no outcome and only “verbal assurances”.
The 10-long pending demands presented by MARD revolve around bond issues, leaves, stipend and security problems.
The doctors demand for at least two months leave for both, pregnancy and tuberculosis treatment. “Doctors in public hospitals contract the infectious disease and need ample rest for TB medications to work. Currently our stipend is cut if we take leave,” Mundada said.
Another demand is to increase security for on-duty doctors to avoid cases of assault by family members. This includes installation of CCTV cameras.
The MARD has also demanded an increase in stipend. “Our stipend was supposed to increase every three years following a GR. While tution fee increases after every three years, the government has not kept its word to increase the stipend,” Mundada added.