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Strike cripples healthcare

Healthcare services took a severe beating on Wednesday at Patna Medical College and Hospital and Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital after junior doctors went on a strike demanding stipend hike.

However, the situation was not that bad at Nalanda Medical College and Hospital.

At present the postgraduate students get Rs 30,000 per month stipend. The doctors, however, demanded that the stipend should be Rs 48,000 for first-year postgraduate students, Rs 50,000 for second-year postgraduate students and Rs 52,000 for final-year students.

Many patients who were rushed to the emergencies failed to get immediate treatment. Nurses performed the suturing and other responsibilities, usually handled by the medicos.

Sheohar resident Satendra Narayan Singh (45) was one of the patients who had to bear the brunt of the strike at PMCH.

His nephew Deepak Kumar alleged that though Singh was given initial medical aid by nurses on Tuesday night after he was admitted in the emergency wing of the PMCH, till 11.30am on Wednesday no doctor came to examine his uncle.

“Before bringing him to the PMCH, I had admitted my uncle to a private hospital in Muzaffarpur. A CT scan revealed that he had suffered a brain haemorrhage. Only after reaching here we got to know about the strike. Had we known earlier, we would not have brought him to PMCH,” Kumar said.

A person sitting in the doctors’ duty room, who did not reveal his identity, said he had called a senior neurosurgeon around half-an-hour ago but he did not turn up at the ward.

“The patient is an accident victim. He might need surgery but only a neurosurgeon would take a call on this. However, we have ensured that the patient gets the initial treatment. He has been kept on IV fluid and had been administered medicines last night,” the person said.

Earlier, when this correspondent tried to contact PMCH superintendent Amar Kant Jha Amar several times to inform him about the condition of the patient and to ask him to send a doctor, Amar’s phone was found switched off around 11.30am. His two cellphones were found switched off.

A nurse, who was on duty at the emergency wing of the PMCH, said: “The situation would have been different if the junior doctors wouldn’t have gone on strike. It is the junior doctors who look after the patients during the night shift and also when senior doctors are not present in the ward. Their strike has severely hit the healthcare services. How much can we do? You can’t expect us to play the role of the doctors.”

Goriya Toli resident Surendra Kumar, whose brother Sachin Kumar, was admitted at the emergency wing of the PMCH on Tuesday night said: “My brother is unconscious since Tuesday night. But no doctor paid a visit on Wednesday morning. Though he was given aid on Tuesday night, I am worried that the strike may take a toll. Now, I am planning to take my brother to a private hospital.”

The strike also resulted in the decline in the number of patients at the outpatient department of Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital.

“We usually receive 1,500 to 2,000 patients in the outpatient department everyday but on Wednesday the number dwindled to around 800,” DMCH superintendent S.N. Sinha said.

R.R. Choudhary, the head of the medicine department, NMCH, said: “There are 71 postgraduate students in 15 departments, including orthopaedic, gynaecology, medicine. But from the beginning of postgraduate courses in 2010, we have never been dependent on the postgraduate students for hospital services. The students are only given duty in the indoor wards but they are not given duty in the emergency wing of the hospital. However, at PMCH the strike must have affected the services because the hospital is dependent on its postgraduate doctors who provide services not only in the indoor but also at the emergency wing.”

Respite soon

Sources in the health department said principal secretary Deepak Kumar had called a delegation of the Junior Doctors’ Association for discussion around 5pm.

“I have informed the medicos that we have already taken a decision to increase their stipend and the file regarding this has been moved and it would take at least 15-20 days to do the formalities. I have told them that if they don’t call off their strike now, we would be forced to stop the process midway and their demand would not be fulfilled,” Deepak said. The Junior Doctors’ Association had meeting after having an interaction with Deepak. Till the filing of the report the strike had not been called off.