Hundreds of patients were denied treatment as the emergency ward and the out-patient department of NRS hospital remained shut on Tuesday as junior doctors went on a ceasework.
Since morning, agitating junior doctors kept one of the two gates along APC Road closed. They did not allow anyone to enter the hospital through the gate and told everyone to use the gate near the emergency ward. In the afternoon, they shut the second gate along APC Road for more than an hour.
Several relatives of patients admitted to the hospital said only those with cards were allowed to enter the premises. Some said they had food for patients with them.
Many said pathology and radiology tests were not conducted at the OPD throughout the day. Services were hit because junior doctors form the backbone of hospitals, family members of patients admitted to the hospital said.
Since morning, health department officials, minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya and city police commissioner Anuj Sharma, along with officers, visited the hospital at various times.
A large police contingent, including senior officers, remained present in the hospital throughout the day.
A heart patient from Nabadwip waits inside an ambulance for treatment A Telegraph picture
Prodyut Banerjee, 68, had taken a 3.30am train from Diamond Harbour to reach NRS hospital for some blood tests. “My first test was done at 10.45am when the men in the pathological department were still working,” he said. “Suddenly some doctors came and asked them to stop all operations.”
Banerjee said he was diabetic and had cardiac ailments. He stood outside the pathological test counters around noon when everything was shut.
“No one is even making an announcement that they will not work today,” he said.
Patients undergoing treatment in the wards were partially hit.
Balikanta Pal, 70, admitted to the Fraser ward with a hip fracture, was supposed to undergo an X-ray on Tuesday. “He underwent surgery on Monday. There were no doctors in the ward today. Only nurses looked after him. The X-ray could not be done,” Manikul Islam, a relative, said.
Junior doctors at Calcutta National Medical College and Hospital express their solidarity with their counterparts at NRS hospital A Telegraph picture
Natabar Naik, whose son Soumen is admitted to the UNB Building, said doctors had attended to his son. “There were doctors in the ward,” he said.
As the agitation continued, health department officials and police held several rounds of meetings with the agitating doctors and the NRS authorities.
“We will take necessary measures to increase security in the hospital. We have requested the doctors to withdraw their ceasework,” minister Bhattacharya said while leaving the hospital in the afternoon.
Pradip Mitra, the director of medical education in Bengal, said he had appealed to the junior doctors of NRS to send representatives to Swasthya Bhavan on Wednesday to discuss the matter with officials.
An elderly patient waits to get admitted A Telegraph picture
There was no negligence on the part of doctors at NRS while treating 75-year-old Mohammad Sayeed, whose death had triggered the violence on Monday night, a health department official said.
“The attack was unprovoked and we have asked the police to ensure the safety of doctors at government hospitals,” he said.
The number of cops in hospitals will be increased, the police said. Doctors have raised questions on the status of past cases of assault on doctors over allegations of medical negligence.
The police have said that in most cases doctors who witness an attack fail to turn up during the test identification parade, affecting an investigation.
At present there are 15-20 cops posted in the government hospitals, an officer in Lalbazar said. The number will go up because of this attack, an officer said.
Around 4.30pm, a procession of 300-odd junior doctors from various medical colleges, including Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and RG Kar Medical College and Hospital, reached NRS to show solidarity with the junior doctors of NRS.
Santanu Sen, Trinamul MP and national president of the Indian Medical Association, visited NRS hospital on Tuesday evening and requested doctors to withdraw their ceasework.
There was hardly any effect as the agitation continued till late at night.