Around 15,000 resident doctors across Delhi refrained from attending to patients at the outpatient department (OPD) Saturday — in continuation of their ongoing protest in support of West Bengal doctors.
Doctors from two central government-run hospitals, Ram Manohar Lohia and Lady Hardinge Medical College, along with several Delhi government hospitals such as GTB, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar, boycotted work on Saturday.
Patients faced the brunt of the ongoing stir as they waited for long hours outside OPDs. Ram Singh, who came to RML for a check-up of his wife, had to return since doctors were unavailable. “The OPDs function till noon on weekends and due to unavailability of doctors, we could not get her treated. The queue was long and only a few senior doctors were available,” said Singh, who will return on Monday.
On Friday, a majority of hospitals in Delhi had joined the nationwide agitation in support of doctors in West Bengal, following a call given by the India Medical Association (IMA) and various resident doctors’ associations (RDAs).
“If the demands of doctors in West Bengal are not met, we will continue our protest on Monday. We do not want patients to suffer, but the government should take step to ensure safety and security of doctors,” said Dr Sumedh Sandanshiv, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA).
Meanwhile, resident doctors at AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital, who resumed work after Friday’s boycott, have given a 48-hour ultimatum to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to meet demands of the state’s agitating doctors, failing which they said they would go on an indefinite strike. The doctors at AIIMS carried out a candle march Saturday evening.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has, meanwhile, asked states to consider enacting a specific legislation to protect doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence.
Along with a letter to all chief ministers, he attached a copy of the Draft Act provided by IMA — the Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017. The draft includes clauses on penalty and recovery in case of loss/damage to property.
“The Act is there in Delhi but not many people are aware of it. Once it is implemented by the Central government, enactment will become effective. Even in Delhi, temporary arrangements are made when doctors go on strike demanding better security. But security guards are again removed and the situation reverts to how it was,” said Dr Ashwani Goyal from the Delhi Medical Association.