Fifty-two-year old R Anjamma was mentally prepared for a spinal surgery scheduled for Wednesday when she came to Gandhi Hospital in the morning. But what she was not prepared for was being asked by the doctors to either wait for a few more days or go to another hospital.
This is what doctors at the hospital told her and her relatives, citing severe shortage of doctors, thanks to the strike by the junior doctors continuing for the second day.
Over 1,000 junior doctors boycotted work Wednesday, angry over the attack on them by a mob which alleged that their negligence had caused the death of a young man on Tuesday.
“Last week, the doctors had done some tests and had asked my mother to get admitted today. Now since the treatment is halfway through here, it’s not possible to go to another hospital like they say,” said Anjamma’s son Ravi, who was perplexed at the turn of events. But the family, which came all the way from the Nagarjuna Sagar area in Nalgonda district, had no option but to leave the hospital.
Several patients like Anjamma had to return disappointed from the Gandhi Hospital.
“Because of the ongoing strike and lack of staff, we are taking only accident and very serious cases here. We are referring other cases to different government hospitals including Niloufer and Osmania General Hospital,” said a casualty medical officer who did not wish to be named.
But she admitted that the casualty wing, which treats about 300 patients on an average day, has been badly hit by the strike.
Meanwhile, the junior doctors, who staged a protest outside one of the hospital blocks in the morning, demanded that a situation like Tuesday’s mob attack must not rise again.
“We demand an explanation from the director of medical education and until we receive assurance that such an issue would not happen again, we will strike,” said Dr Naresh Kumar, general secretary of AP Junior Doctors Association.
His colleague Dr MI Abhilash demanded protection for doctors in general.
“Since 2006 we have been hearing about special protection force (SPF) for government hospitals. The government had decided to implement it as a pilot project in 2009 following strict direction from court. They had renewed their promise as recently as eight months ago but it was not done,” he said.
The major demand is the immediate arrest of everyone involved in the attack.