The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Week of work minus interns
- Hospitals brace for exam exodus to Delhi

:City hospitals to be affected by exodus: 8

:Number of OPDs in teaching hospitals: 17 to 20

:Patients in each hospital every day: 4,000 (approx)

:Daily number of patients in busiest OPDs, like medicine, surgery and orthopaedics: 800

:Average number of government-paid physicians in each hospital: 150

:Average number of junior doctors in each hospital: 300

The state-run teaching hospitals are bracing for a week of work without a large section of its interns and house-staff — not for protest or peeve, but for an entrance examination.

The state health department brass, overtaken by the recent events at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital leading to Thursday’s outpatients’ department-boycott threat, has all but overlooked the fact that the state healthcare system will be without the services of around 450 junior doctors for about a week from Thursday.

All for the AIIMS entrance examination.

Strike or no strike, Medical College and Hospital, NRS Medical College and Hospital, Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital and RG Kar Medical College and Hospital will be severely crippled from Thursday till the middle of next week, officials admit, when reminded of the D-Day in Delhi. Also feeling the pressure will be other medical centres like MR Bangur Hospital and Sambhunath Pandit Hospital, they add.

House-staff and interns leave for the Capital in batches, mostly by train, for the “objective-type” test on Sunday, November 9. It will be November 13 before they start rejoining work.

Some are not expected back before November 17.

“It will be a nightmarish situation for the next few days, in the outpatients’ departments and indoors,” says a teacher at Medical College and Hospital. “Even if Thursday’s proposed boycott is a total success, we will have to contend with a severely depleted staff for the next few days.”

A colleague at Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital, however, says it was “hardly surprising” that officials had overlooked this brief exodus, given the recent horror run at hospitals.

The outpatients’ departments, targeted by Thursday’s boycott call, are overrun every day. The 20-odd outpatients’ departments in each of the four hospitals tend to around 4,000 patients on a rush day, say officials.

Take the medicine outpatients’ department at NRS Medical College and Hospital. It sees anything between 700 and 800 patients on a busy day, say officials.

Attending to these patients are only two senior doctors (one visiting physician and one residential medical officer), depending largely on around eight junior doctors — comprising post-graduate trainees, house-staff and interns — at any given time.

Next on the busy scale are the surgery and orthopaedic departments, say officials. These open their gates to patients at 9 am and issue tickets till 2 pm. Work goes on till all patients issued tickets are treated.

NRS Medical College and Hospital superintendent Shyamal Rudra admits the administration was too busy with other controversies to plan for the Thursday exodus. “We will have to depute medical officers, both indoors and at the outpatients’ departments, to tide over the temporary crisis,” he says.

Medical College and Hospital deputy superintendent A.K. Biswas adds: “We are now working out alternative arrangements but the effect of the examination-related exodus will be felt severely.”

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