Mahashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) members continued their mass bunk for the fourth consecutive day despite getting a notice of expulsion from their respective college bodies. However, after holding a meeting with deans of medical colleges to negotiate their demands, MARD members across the state withdrew their mass bunk last evening.
According to sources, the deans of the BMC-run tertiary hospitals assured the resident doctors that their demands would be met, and requested them to return to work. Dr Swapnil Kulkarni, spokesperson for MARD, said, “The meeting went well and we have been given verbal assurance by deans of the hospitals that our demands will be met. On this condition, we have decided to withdraw our protest and resume duty.”
The demands included increased security in hospitals and a stipend hike of Rs 10,000. They had also demanded a cancellation of the service bond if the authorities took longer than two months to give them their postings. The resident doctors eventually settled for Rs 5,000 hike in stipend.
The resident doctors had been asked to resume duty yesterday, but since many MARD members from across the state had come to the city for the meeting, they requested that the joining time be deferred to 8 am today. Many city-based resident doctors joined duty after 7 pm yesterday to avoid further inconvenience to patients.
Since the mass bunk started on Tuesday, regular OPDs (out-patient departments) at all BMC-run tertiary hospitals remained shut due to lack of sufficient staff. This forced the hospital to turn away patients or refer them to the state-run JJ hospital or other private hospitals in the city. Resident doctors from JJ hospital also joined the strike on Thursday evening.
“After the decision of the High Court, if we continue with the strike we would be in contempt of court. The government has agreed to comply with most of our demands and assured us that they will promptly implement some of them,” said Dr P Harshollhas, resident doctor at JJ hospital and secretary of MARD.
Services in civic hospitals were hit yesterday as only 29 operations were conducted in Parel’s KEM Hospital as compared to the usual 100-120 daily surgeries. Thirty operations were conducted in Sion Hospital. Around 470 resident doctors out of 639 in KEM hospital were on strike due to which the hospital had only 57 indoor patients yesterday,” said Dr Milind Salve, deputy dean of the hospital. “KEM Hospital was able to perform only three deliveries and attend to 217 patients in the casualty department,” he added.
Dr Maruti Kore, general secretary of the MARD division of KEM hospital, said, “All our resident doctors have withdrawn the mass bunk and we have started joining our shifts. Our parallel OPD was successful today and we treated around 550 patients.”
Dr S J Nagda, dean of Nair dental hospital, said, “I have intervened and assured the resident doctors that their demands will be fulfilled. The BMC will do regular follow-up of the issue.” Dr Santosh Wakchaure, president, MARD said, “Considering the assurance given to us by Dr Nagda and other deans we are withdrawing our mass bunk. All MARD members will join duty from 8 am on Saturday.”
Sources confirmed that the hospital deans would be meeting Dr Vijaykumar Gavit, minister for medical education around 10 pm yesterday to discuss the demands of the resident doctors. It is only after this meeting that the MARD members are expected to receive an assurance in writing.
Sameena Shaikh (25), a road accident victim, was brought to KEM hospital on Thursday at 12.30 pm. Shaikh, who lost a limb in the accident, was lying unattended outside the casualty department for almost five hours before she was put on a stretcher and given initial treatment.
“My daughter was then left on that stretcher outside the casualty department for the entire night with a severed leg, instead of being admitted to one of the many wards in the hospital. A CT scan of my daughter was performed today in the afternoon and she has been transferred to the orthopaedic ward,” said Sultan Shaikh, the victim’s father.