New Delhi: As the doctors’ protest over the Kolkata hospital violence intensifies in West Bengal, Delhi and Mumbai, it is the patients that have become the first victims.

Healthcare services at private and government hospitals in the national capital have taken a hit with scores of doctors deciding to boycott work for a day to express solidarity with their protesting colleagues in Kolkata.

A complete shutdown of all outpatient departments (OPDs), routine operation theatre services and ward visits has been enforced in AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital. (As part of contingency measures, OPD services will function in a restricted manner till normalcy is restored, according to a memo put out by AIIMS medical superintendent.)

Speaking to news agency ANI on Friday morning, family member of a patient said, “My mother’s dialysis was scheduled for today, we were told to go and get it done from somewhere else.”

Resident doctors at the AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital worked with bandages on their heads in a symbolic protest on Thursday and called for the suspension of all non-emergency services, including OPD, on June 14 to protest against the violence in Kolkata. Several resident doctors also held a protest at Jantar Mantar against the brutal attack.

Condemning the violence in Bengal, the AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) has also urged all the RDAs across the country to join the token strike. “There is a complete breakdown of law and order, with reports of mobs attacking doctor hostels with weapons. The government has failed to provide protection and justice to doctors. “The AIIMS RDA condemns this in words and in spirit. Residents across the country are deeply hurt by these turn of events,” the RDA said in a statement.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has asked members of all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on Friday. The Delhi Medical Association (DMA) observed a “Black Day” on Thursday against the brutal attack and has declared a statewide absolute shutdown on Friday.

Simultaneously, all the local branches and individual members of the IMA will send an appeal to the prime minister and the Union Home Minister, demanding a Central Act on violence against doctors and in hospitals.

“The gruesome incident in NRS Medical College, Kolkata, is of barbaric nature. IMA condemns the violence perpetrated on a young doctor. The entire medical fraternity expresses solidarity with the resident doctors who are on strike. The IMA headquarters hereby declares All India Protest Day on Friday,” an IMA statement said.

This countrywide protest in solidarity comes after two junior doctors at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata were brutally assaulted after his patient aged around 80, died while being treated.

A day before West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had issued a four-hour ultimatum to the protesting doctors in state, whose strike has now entered the fourth day. She had asked them to resume work within four hours on Thursday or face consequences.

The chief minister had also alleged that the agitation was a part of the conspiracy of rival parties. “The junior doctors’ agitation is a conspiracy by the CPI(M) and the BJP,” said Mamata. She added that outsiders had entered medical colleges and hospitals to create disturbances. But the doctors have not yielded yet and the protest has now only spread in other parts of the country.

Some studies show that 75 per cent of all doctors in India have faced some form of violence.

 

With inputs from agencies