Medical services in Rajasthan remained badly affected on the fifth day of the strike by resident doctors Sunday, with at least 40 patients dying across the state so far far due to the agitation, officials said. Some 3,500 doctors have struck work since Wednesday to press for a pay hike and other demands.
About 400 doctors have been arrested till now for violating the Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act (RESMA) clamped by the state government. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot visited Jaipur's Sawai Man Singh Hospital Sunday morning to take stock of the situation.
"We are negotiating with the striking doctors. A solution is likely to be reached soon," a senior health department official told IANS. At least 40 patients have died in hospitals across the state due to the absence of doctors, he added.
Hospitals in Jaipur, including Sawai Man Singh Hospital, wore a deserted look Sunday and patients alleged that they were being discharged without treatment. Sources said that situation in rural areas was worse as there was no one to attend to patients at primary health centres.
Nearly 3,500 resident doctors and 20,000 National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) contract employees, along with thousands of in-service doctors, are participating in the strike since Wednesday. The NRHM contract employees are demanding permanent posts which, they claim, was promised to them by the chief minister last year.
The All Rajasthan In-service Doctors Association (ARISDA) has been demanding a hike in wages on a par with the central government employees for the past 11 months. Gehlot Saturday directed the health department to authorise private hospitals to treat at approved rates patients who are suffering due to the strike.
The private hospitals will charge patients as per the standard rates approved for Sawai Man Singh Hospital and other authorised government hospitals, a health department official told IANS. The state government has also sought help from doctors in the army, Border Security Force and railways. "The chief minister has also asked that recruitment of 1,000 doctors be started from Monday," the official added.