While senior doctors are handling the emergency cases at the hospital, negotiations are on with those on strike. Pic\Pradeep Dhivar
It was not business as usual for the city's Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital (Sion Hospital) on Monday, as the medical professionals decided that they had enough of the 'hooliganism' that patients' relatives have been indulging in for the past week. A swarm of police personnel guarded the hospital premises as doctors went on strike following an attack on a young medical professional on Saturday. Resident doctor of the hospital's medicine department, Dr Rohit Kumar was badly thrashed and abused by the relatives of a 60-year-old woman, suffering from renal problems, after she died while undergoing treatment.
Despite a promise to update the media about the latest developments at the hospital, Dean Dr Suleman Merchant remained unavailable all throughout the day. His office claimed that he was busy in a meeting with the BMC commissioner. When asked about the young doctor's condition, a spokesperson from his office said, "Dr Kumar is fine. Negotiations with the striking doctors are on and there is no deadlock as such. Senior doctors are handling all the emergency cases."
Though the striking resident doctors, who had gathered outside the hospital in the morning, whittled away by late afternoon, the hospital walls spoke a lot about their ire. Posters carrying slogans like – 'Save the Saviour', 'Doctors are brave, do not make them your slave' and 'Save tigers, save pandas and now save doctors!' were put up across the walls.
Govt must ensure security
While medical student organisations endorsed the strike, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) secretary for Mumbai Mahanagar, Rohit Chandode was also spotted at the Sion campus. When asked to comment on the plight of the students, he said, "As a student body we criticise the attacks in the strongest terms. The government should take cognizance of their demands and ensure that they are provided adequate security. However, the doctors should get back to work so that common people don't suffer. But it's important to maintain the pressure through other means."
Get back to work
In the meantime, Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar urged doctors to resume work. He warned them that strict action would be taken if they did not join duty. However, the doctors speaking through the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) refused to call off the strike. The association has demanded effective implementation of Doctors Protection Act 2010, immediate action against the people who have beaten up doctors and installation of CCTVs inside the hospital premises. However, the civic body has agreed to allow only two relatives per patient inside the hospital, install an alarm system and beef up security at hospitals.
What the law says
Indian Medical Association (IMA) action committee chairman, Dr Anil Pachnekar rued that the attack came just a day after various medical organisations had gathered in strength at the Azad Maidan to protest the attacks on doctors. He also claimed that the strongest deterrent to the attacks would be punishing the culprits under the Doctors Protection Act 2010. "This is supposed to be a non-bailable arrest with a fine of Rs 50,000. It calls for three years of rigorous imprisonment and the culprit also has to pay double the recoverable amount of the damaged property. The police needs to be more aware of the law," he added.