Junior doctors at Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital ceased work for over seven hours on Monday to protest the alleged molestation of an intern by relatives of a patient on Saturday.
About 70 of the hospital’s 150 interns staged a demonstration in front of the emergency ward on Monday even as patients, many of them from faraway areas, were forced to wait for hours.
By afternoon, the emergency ward was packed with patients, some of them from as far as Nadia and the Sunderbans.
“I have come here to get my son admitted. He fell down from a tree and broke both his legs. We have been waiting for three hours,” said Nafisa Bibi, a resident of Gosaba in the Sunderbans.
The junior doctors met the medical superintendent, Partha Pratim Pradhan, around 3pm and submitted a memorandum. Their demands included more security personnel on the hospital premises and restriction on the number of relatives who can accompany a patient inside the wards.
The protesters alleged that the relatives of a patient from Beniapukur had used “vulgar and obscene words” and “threatened the modesty” of the intern. The girl, however, did not lodge a complaint with the police or the hospital authorities.
Pradhan promised to look into the demands but the meeting was disrupted after some of the doctors demanded immediate implementation.
The strike continued till 5.15pm, half an hour before a directive from the health department that the striking doctors could face strict action, including cancellation of registration. “The government wants to make it clear that it’ll not accept any disruption of health care,” said a visiting official of the health department.
“None of the senior doctors reports to work on time and we have to face the wrath of patients’ relatives,” one of the interns alleged. “We know that many patients will face difficulties but we have no choice.”