Patients suffer as 4,000 doctors go on mass leave in Maharashtra

Mumbai: Medical services in 17 government hospitals in Maharashtra were severely hit on Monday after over 4,000 resident doctors went on a mass Casual Leave to protest growing incidents of attacks by patients’ relatives.

In the absence of any concrete measures by the government on their security, the resident doctors are likely to go on mass leave for a second day on Tuesday, the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) said.

There have been at least five attacks on resident doctors in one week, including two in the past 24 hours, said Indian Medical Association (Youth) state President Sagar Mundada.

“We met Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar but we have not got any concrete assurances on our physical safety while on duty,” Mundada said, hinting at continuing the agitation on Tuesday.

Late in the evening, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced a series of tough measures to curb violence against medicos, including limiting the number of relatives who will be permitted to accompany patients.

Henceforth, only two relatives of any patient shall be allowed with special passes and those found without passes shall be prosecuted, said Additional Municipal Commissioner IA Kundan.

Earlier, while admitting that it was the duty of the civic body to ensure security, Mahadeshwar urged the medicos to resume duty by evening failing which the civic body would consider taking action against them.

In this context, the BMC will ask for additional armed forces from the Maharashtra State Security Force which will be deployed in the hospitals.

And entry points of each hospital would be designated for different types of patients.

MARD President Yashowardhan Kabra said the sudden spate of attacks on medicos had left shattered them and “it was difficult to work under such life-threatening conditions”.

“There have been attacks on medicos in Mumbai Sion and Wadia hospitals after which our members decided to go on individual action of availing CL,” Kabra told IANS.

Simultaneously, the MARD is filing an affidavit in the Bombay High Court to highlight how its orders on doctors’ security and related aspects have allegednly not yet been implemented by the state government.

“In fact, last Friday we had planned a day’s mass bunking which we cancelled after assurances from the government.

“But that same night medicos were attacked in Sion Hospital followed by another attack yesterday,” Kabra said.

In Mumbai, the government hospitals hit were KEM, Sion LTMG, Nair and Sir JJ Group where a large number of resident doctors work.

Their counterparts in Kolhapur Government Hospital continued to work but sported black bands.

Several thousands of patients were deprived of medicare in the absence of resident doctors though senior doctors and others were handling serious or emergency cases.