2/3rd of pa­tients at Saf­dar­jung turned back, doc­tors seek cure to ills in sys­tem

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - TIMES CITY - TIMES NEWS NET­WORK

New Delhi: The out­pa­tient depart­ment at Saf­dar­jung hospi­tal usu­ally has a daily foot­fall of 8,000-9,000 pa­tients, but on Mon­day this num­ber re­duced to just 3,723. Many pa­tients, in­clud­ing those seek­ing emer­gency treat­ment, al­leged that they were told to re­turn as res­i­dent doc­tors were on strike to protest the as­sault of a col­league on Sun­day.

An 18-year-year ac­ci­dent vic­tim, who was ad­mit­ted to the hospi­tal’s emer­gency room on Satur­day, suc­cumbed to his in­juries on Mon­day. His fam­ily al­leged that he didn’t re­ceive proper treat­ment be­cause of the strike. He was re­ferred to Saf­dar­jung from a hospi­tal in Gur­gaon.

TOI spoke to sev­eral doc­tors at Saf­dar­jung and other ma­jor pub­lic hos­pi­tals re­gard­ing the as­sault on med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als as well as the strikes called by them.

“We get beaten up for ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues that aren’t in our con­trol. Pub­lic hos­pi­tals are over­bur­dened and, there­fore, it be­comes dif­fi­cult to sat­isfy all pa­tients,” said Dr Prakash Thakur, pres­i­dent of Res­i­dent Doc­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion (RDA) of Saf­dar­jung hospi­tal, adding that res­i­dent doc­tors of­ten work for 36 hours at a stretch.

As pa­tient load can­not be de­creased and it takes years to cre­ate in­fra­struc­ture to tackle this bur­den, one of the com­mon de­mands at most hos­pi­tals is bet­ter se­cu­rity. Thakur said they met the ad­di­tional sec­re­tary in Union health min­istry af­ter the as­sault on a res­i­dent and a de­ci­sion was taken to de­ploy 18 mar­shals on an ur­gent ba­sis.

The gov­ern­ment also ag- reed to aug­ment se­cu­rity mea­sures over time and take strict ac­tion against those who as­sault doc­tors fol­low­ing which the strike was called off.

How­ever, Dr Vivek Chouk­sey, for­mer pres­i­dent of Fed­er­a­tion of Res­i­dent Doc­tors’ As­so­ci­a­tion (FORDA), said the cri­sis will re­main un­re­solved un­less dis­par­ity in health in­fra­struc­ture is re­duced. “Young doc­tors em­ployed in pub­lic hos­pi­tals, where the pa­tient bur­den is very high and re­sources are scarce, face a hap­less sit­u­a­tion. They work more than 12 hours a day and long- er in emer­gency sce­nar­ios. There is no time for study or recre­ation,” he added.

Chouk­sey said all hos­pi­tals should have a yoga cen­tre, gym and other op­tions for res­i­dent doc­tors to de-stress and get psy­cho­log­i­cal help, if re­quired.

A sur­vey in­volv­ing ju­nior and se­nior res­i­dent doc­tors at Lok Nayak and GB Pant hos­pi­tals at­tached to Maulana Azad Med­i­cal Col­lege re­vealed that 41% of them faced vi­o­lence at work. Death of pa­tients and “de­lay” in treat­ment were the most com­mon rea­sons for vi­o­lence. Some of the re­lati- ves, doc­tors com­plained, be­came vi­o­lent on be­ing told about “lack of medicines”. A per­cep­tion about their pa­tient get­ting “in­ad­e­quate at­ten­tion” was an­other trig­ger for phys­i­cal vi­o­lence.

Even AIIMS, In­dia’s premier hospi­tal, has wit­nessed mul­ti­ple strikes in the past over as­sault on doc­tors. In 2017, the res­i­dent doc­tors took to wear­ing hel­mets at work to protest against vi­o­lence. “We don’t want to lose our vi­sion and life as well as our hard-earned de­grees. Pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure,” they had said.

Pho­tos: San­jeev Ras­togi

STIR HITS MANY: Saf­dar­jung hospi­tal saw 3,723 pa­tients in OPD on Mon­day. The doc­tors were protest­ing against an as­sault on a col­league

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