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SSKM junior doctors call strike After assault, ire at lack of security

Calcutta, Sept. 25: The junior doctors at SSKM today went on an indefinite cease-work for the second time in less than a month after some of them were allegedly beaten up by the relatives of a patient who died this morning.

After the death of Kidderpore-resident Sheikh Irfan, 20, at the hospital, his relatives allegedly attacked doctors and Group D staff around 8.30am. “The patient had been run over by a truck. He was critical when he was admitted this morning,” said Sushobhon Ghosh, a junior doctor.

The junior doctors alleged that the officers at the police outpost on the hospital premises did not take any action despite being repeatedly requested to stop the mob. The doctors then informed Bhowanipore police station and a team arrived around 9.45am. The police rescued the doctors and four of Irfan’s relatives were arrested.

The 500 junior doctors then held a meeting and called the indefinite strike around 1.30pm.

“We know that many patients will face difficulties but we have no other option. We cannot continue working in such an insecure environment,” Ghosh said.

Work was affected in all departments, including intensive care units, operation theatres and the emergency ward.

By afternoon, the emergency ward was brimming with patients, who had to face severe inconvenience. Some had come from far-off places such as Bankura and Nandigram.

“They are saying there are no doctors and beds. We have been asked to go to Shambhunath Pandit hospital. I have come from Bankura to admit my sister, who recently suffered a stroke, to this hospital,” said Asish Dey.

Demanding more security, the junior doctors said one of the main reasons for assaults on them was the lack of proper infrastructure at the hospital.

“We have just two operation tables in the emergency department, where general, orthopaedic, ENT and neurosurgery operations are done. The department has only two stitching tables. Blood samples cannot be investigated within the hospital after noon and patients have to pay extra money to get it done from elsewhere,” Ghosh said.

The junior doctors said they had informed the authorities about these problems 15 days ago but no action had been taken. “Four months ago, we had requested the authorities to install a microphone outside the gynaecology ward so that relatives could be informed about the condition of patients. However, nothing has been done,” Ghosh said.

Pradip Mitra, the director of SSKM, said: “They have gone on a strike without even consulting me. Strict action can be taken against them if this continues.”

On August 30, around 300 junior doctors at SSKM had gone on a strike for 24 hours after two of their colleagues were assaulted by a mob following the death of a child.

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