| The deserted corridor of the outpatient department at Patna Medical College and Hospital on Tuesday. Picture by Ranjeet Kumar Dey |
Patna, May 31: The killer blows of rogue Gopalganj prisoners did not just kill the jail doctor, Budhdeo Singh. A couple of days on, poor and ailing people of the state paid for their misdeed. The daylong strike of medics in protest against the murder of their colleague today crippled health services across the state.
Bihar Health Services Association (BHSA), a body representing medics in the state government services, called the strike to protest against the murder of Dr Singh on May 29.
Primary health centres (PHCs) and other government facilities, barring medical colleges in the state capital, wore a deserted look, as doctors refused to treat patients.
Many hospitals in the state capital, including New Gardiner Hospital, Rajvanshi Nagar Hospital and Rajendra Nagar Hospital, that usually cater to a large number of patients in the outpatient departments (OPDs) on other days were deserted, as no doctor was available to attend to the patients.
At Bhagalpur, doctors remained absent from work at Jai Prakesh Narayan Sadar Hospital. Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital, however, functioned as usual.
Patients in Motihari District Hospital found no doctor to attend to them. Those admitted at the hospital also went without any medical assistance.
In Gaya, doctors at Pilgrim Hospital reported for duty but did not attend to any patient at the OPD. The medics, however, attended to the patients at the emergency ward, Dr Dilip Kumar, civil surgeon, Gaya, told The Telegraph.
Medics at Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMMCH) reported for duty and attended to the patients in the emergency and the OPD sporting black badges. They observed the day as virodh divas (protest day), Dr Sitaram Prasad, superintendent, ANMMCH, told The Telegraph.
Patients at sadar hospitals in Chhapra, Siwan and Gopalganj also had to return disappointed as the doctors took part in the strike and abstained from work.
Dr Ajay Kumar, general secretary, BHSA, said the strike, in which around 4,000 doctors took part, was a protest against the attitude of the government that had led to such a brutal and shocking incident in Gopalganj.
“We want to send the message to the state government that our strike is not against this particular incident. In fact, the incident is the reflection of the fact that doctors are not safe in the state. In the past six years, there have been over 1,000 incidents of attacks on doctors. In all probability, no one has been prosecuted for any of these mindless and violent incidents. We cannot sit idle anymore,” Kumar said.
“The government expects us to provide quality healthcare to the people. However, service conditions are so bad that even our lives are not safe. It is difficult to work in these circumstances. On June 5, we have called a meeting of the body where a decisive action will be initiated against government policies,” added Kumar.
The BHSA’s demands include immediate implementation of the Medical Professional Protection Act, Rs 1 crore compensation to the family of the victim, white paper on all incidents of assaults on doctors in the state and deployment of security personnel at hospitals. The body has also demanded that an FIR be lodged against all the jail officers of Gopalganj jail on duty when Dr Singh was murdered.
Amarjeet Sinha, the principal secretary of the health department, claimed that all the medical colleges functioned normally and contractual doctors had worked at block-level hospitals and PHCs.
“While the incident is unfortunate and the government is taking action against the accused, the doctors should not penalise poor people for no fault of theirs. We are doing our best to provide good service conditions to the doctors in the state. They should co-operate with us. Many government hospitals have security arrangements. Doctors should not behave irresponsibly. There were reports of BHSA members trying to disrupt services in many hospitals where doctors wanted to work,” Sinha said.