The Telegraph
Saturday , June 23 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999

Touts cash in on strike
Patients suffer as agitation continues

All but the touts want junior doctors of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) to call off their strike. Healthcare going haywire at the state-run health hub, they are flourishing by ferrying critical patients to nearby private hospitals.

Several touts were seen waiting outside the emergency ward of the PMCH on Friday afternoon to cash in on the helplessness of patients because of the agitation. Sources said they pocket between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 as commission in lieu of shifting a patient to a private clinic from PMCH.

The touts, a patient said, were shifting patients at will in the presence of police. “I saw at least five patients being shifted and the police remaining mute spectators,” said an attendant of a patient admitted to PMCH.

The police said they were not entitled to take any action against touts till the hospital authorities lodged a formal complaint. Acting on a written complaint given by PMCH deputy superintendent Dr R.K. Singh, a tout was arrested on Friday morning.

Besides PMCH, touts had a field day at Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) also. Most patients turned their eyes towards private hospitals after about 450 junior doctors went on strike from Thursday in support of their peers at PMCH.

The junior doctors (postgraduate medical students) of PMCH are on strike from June 14 following a brawl with attendants of a patient who died at the hospital. Their Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) counterparts took the agitation path on Friday, crippling the health services.

The impact of the strike was most visible in the emergency ward of NMCH. Patients lay unattended on its corridor. Raj Kumar, a Class X passout and a resident of Samaspura village in Mahua block of Vaishali district, was seen writhing in pain in the hospital after he fell from a tree.

Anila Devi, the mother of Raj Kumar, said: “I admitted my son to the hospital on Friday. Nobody is listening to his problem. My child is in severe pain. A nurse administered him some first aid but no doctor has come to see my son.”

The hospital authorities refused to buy the argument that services were hit because of the strike. NMCH superintendent Dr Shiva Kumari Prasad told The Telegraph: “Work has not been affected at all in the indoor, outdoor and emergency departments. There are 28 junior doctors in the hospital. The work is not affected in our hospital because much of it is done by senior doctors and interns.”

The government, meanwhile, maintained its tough stand over the issue. “While we genuinely acknowledge the demands put forth by junior doctors, most of their grievances cannot be fulfilled overnight and will take some time. Remaining on strike is not a solution,” said a senior health officer.