Outside KEM Hospital’s casualty ward, four-year-old Yash Chaurasia sat on his mother’s lap waiting as his father rushed from one counter to another to get an out patient department (OPD) slip. “They are telling us to come back once the strike is over,” said Mahendra Chaurasia, with medical reports in hand.
Like him, several patients were asked to return home by hospital staff with only “emergency” cases being referred to a doctor concerned.
Major government hospitals saw resident doctors remain on mass leave for a third day, forcing over 400 surgeries to get rescheduled and handicapping OPDs and routine surgeries.
Chaurasia had travelled from Ulhasnagar to Parel’s KEM Hospital Wednesday after treatment in private hospital failed to cure his son. Yash has had a stomach ache for two months and was referred twice to a local hospital where he was given medication. “There has been no improvement. So we decided to travel this far,” Chaurasia, a paan-vendor, said, adding he did not know about the strike.
At KEM Hospital, only the psychiatry and surgery OPDs functioned while other OPDs remained shut with senior doctors attending to surgeries and critical cases. In Sion Hospital, all OPDs remained shut with wards and corridors deserted throughout the day. In Nair Hospital where 70 minor and major surgeries are conducted daily, only 10 angiography procedures and five major operations were conducted.
“We are not scheduling any routine surgery due to shortage of doctors,” an assistant medical officer in Nair Hospital said.
Despite assurances of 500 security guards by medical education ministry and another 700 guards by civic body, protesting doctors in Mumbai have claimed they will not resume duty until situation on ground changes. “Nothing has changed in hospital. We still have very few guards and there is still fear of assaults,” a resident doctor at KEM Hospital said.
“Professors and lecturers are working for long hours to bridge the gap. As per High Court orders, we have started issuing suspension notices to doctors who are not reporting to work,” said Dr Avinash Supe, director of tertiary hospitals, BMC.
Taxi driver Gajendra Loke claimed his neighbours have been visiting KEM and Nair hospitals every day with fever complaints. “Fever and mild infection is not even being looked into by doctors. My neighbours are returning every day. Such strike affects poor people like us,” Loke, a Dadar resident, said.
On Wednesday night, another minor incident of a doctor-patient scuffle sparked protest by doctors outside Sion hospital. The incident happened in the paediatric ward when a mother frustrated over delay in treatment slapped a senior medical officer, Dr Mansi Patil, on her arms. According to DCP N Ambika Soni, the mother was waiting for doctors to administer medicines to her baby who had fever. “Since the doctor was treating other patients and got delayed, the mother slapped on her arms. We are trying to verify facts. Our team is at hospital,” she said.
Hospital dean Dr Suleman Merchant said a complaint would be filed with the Sion police. “There was an altercation between the mother of a baby and her grandmother regarding continuing treatment. The doctor tried to intervene and explain that the baby needs treatment, when she was slapped on her hand by the mother,” he said.