Doctors and patients in the capital shared a sense of relief as resident doctors in West Bengal ended a week-long strike Monday evening. Around 15,000 doctors across Delhi had been on strike in solidarity with their colleagues in West Bengal, and healthcare services such as routine surgeries and OPD services were hit as junior doctors stayed away from work Monday.
The family of six-year-old Anjana spent the day running from one hospital to another. A resident of Dilshad Garden, Anjana swallowed a two-rupee coin Saturday morning, while trying to hide it from her elder sister.
“This is the fourth government hospital we have visited in the last two days. Three hospitals did not treat her since doctors were not available. We cannot afford a private hospital. Thinking that the strike would end today, we reached GTB Hospital at 8 am, but couldn’t get an appointment,” said Jai Prakash, the girl’s father.
At one of Delhi government’s biggest hospitals, Lok Nayak, not a single patient was looked at in the OPD. Usually, the hospital sees around 9,000 patients on a daily basis. Only emergency services were functional for a few departments, and the hospital cancelled 80 surgeries.
The family of 50-year-old Mohd Taufeeq, who was admitted with paralysis, was asked to shift him to another hospital since doctors were unavailable.
“We came here last night and now they have asked us to move elsewhere. We have no other option; one cannot fight with the administration. We are taking him back,” said his father Mohd Yassen, shifting him into an ambulance.
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Dr Sunil Kumar, Medical Director at GTB Hospital, said, “Resident doctors are part of the nation-wide agitation for doctor’s rights. Senior doctors are working in the OPD. However, resident doctors are agitated but still compassionate enough to continue emergency services. They will not let patients die. Only routine operations have been suspended.”
The strike, called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), especially impacted patients from outside Delhi.
“In the absence of junior doctors, faculty members have pushed themselves to provide treatment to patients… The vacation of the faculty was put on hold for a while,” said Dr Nutan Mehta from RML Hospital.
The Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) at AIIMS, which had earlier decided not to join the strike keeping in view patient care, announced the withdrawal of all non-essential services from Monday noon till Tuesday 6 am. Junior doctors attended OPDs from 9 am to 12 pm on Monday.