Health services in West Bengal’s state-run hospitals on Friday remained disrupted as protesting doctors continued their strike despite repeated requests by patients’ families to start treatment.
The junior doctors at the NRS Medical College and Hospital – the epicentre of the protests – continued their sit-in. However, hospital gates were opened enabling normalcy of emergency services.
The cease work at the outpatient departments (OPDs) continued in most of the state-run hospitals.
“Please resume the work and do not make the dialysis patients and pregnant women suffer as they are not at fault. I apologise on behalf of all the patients of Bengal,” a patient’s kin requested NRS medicos with folded hands. He pleaded the doctors to understand, saying poor people would suffer without treatment.
“There is nothing to apologise. Who are we to forgive? Our only demand is our security and we will continue the movement till we are given some assurance,” said one of the protesting doctors at NRS.
A pregnant woman’s family was denied treatment and she was told that the hospital would not take any responsibility.
NRS Medical College principal Saibal Mukhereje sent in his resignation to the Director – Medical Education on Thursday. The hospital’s Medical Superintendent and Vice Principal Sourav Chatterjee also put in his papers.
The protests erupted at the state-run NRS Hospital on Tuesday morning bringing the regular services to a standstill, after a junior doctor was allegedly beaten up by the kin of a 75-year-old patient who died there late on Monday night.
The family members of the deceased patient alleged medical negligence. An intern named Paribaha Mukherjee sustained a serious skull injury in the attack and was admitted in the intensive care unit of the Institute of Neurosciences.
With improvement in his condition, Mukherjee has been shifted to the general bed and will be released from hospital within the next two days.
According to informed sources, Sagar Dutta Medical College in Kamarhati, in the suburbs of Kolkata witnessed mass resignation but the administration remained tight-lipped about it.
A bereaved father was seen holding the body of his deceased infant outside the hospital alleging that the child did not get any treatment.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the state-run SSKM Hospital and gave a four-hour ultimatum to the striking doctors to withdraw the agitation and normalise the services. She warned of ‘strong action’ as per law and even threatened to promulgate the stringent Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) if the strike continued beyond the deadline.
Banerjee’s harsh words resulted in resumption of emergency services at the SSKM, where senior doctors took charge, but there was a hardening of posture on the part of the striking junior doctors, who lashed out at the Chief Minister for having called them “outsiders”, “urban Naxals” , “CPI(M) cadre” and “BJP workers”.
“After the Chief Minister’s words, we will not budge from our stand. If we do so we will wrong ourselves and the patients at large,” a doctor of NRS said.