Resident doctors on mass bunk, demand better stipend, security

Day one of the mass bunk declared by the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) didn’t cause much of a stir in BMC-run tertiary hospitals in the city, as lecturers, professors and associate professors held fort. It was the peripheral hospitals that struggled with an overload of work, in the absence of large numbers of senior staffers to substitute the absentee resident doctors.

Services were affected at peripheral hospitals, owing to the absence of resident doctors; Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar suffered setbacks in services. File Pic

Resident doctors in civic-run hospitals across the city stayed away from work yesterday, to register their protest against the government, which they claim has been neglecting their genuine demands regarding a long-awaited revision in stipend in addition to a revision of bond services, OBC scholarship and better security.

They claim that their stipend has not been revised since 2009. They also want to be released from the bond if they aren’t given their bond postings within three months of the declaration of final results. They also want to be given experience certificates after completing the bond service. Senior doctors at the tertiary hospitals like BYL Nair, Sion and KEM claimed that patients were handled without much trouble, despite the mass bunk. While Nair hospital had an OPD of 110 patients, 32 patients were admitted. According to doctors, there were 14 deliveries, eight major surgeries and three minor surgeries.

At Sion hospital, 14 surgeries were performed; five deliveries were pulled off and 38 patients were admitted. KEM hospital saw over 1,860 OPD patients and doctors conducted 23 major surgeries and six minor surgeries. A total of 1,304 patients were admitted yesterday. “The mass bunk did not affect our services at the hospital as work is being managed by lecturers, professors and associate professors. Cases of emergencies and required admissions of patients were handled smoothly,” said a doctor from Sion hospital.

However, it was not smooth sailing for peripheral hospitals, where there are fewer senior staffers. An accident victim admitted to the trauma ward of Rajawadi hospital was supposed to undergo a surgery early in the morning yesterday. However, till afternoon, none of the doctors approached the family regarding the scheduled surgery. Later, the doctors informed the family that the surgery had been postponed. The family alleged that the surgery was cancelled in the last minute owing to the mass bunk. A staffer in the hospital, speaking anonymously, confirmed, “Lack of doctors on duty forced us to postpone the surgery.”

Residents vs govt
Resident doctors on the other hand were satisfied with the protest. “The first day of the mass bunk has been successful. Several hospitals have joined us in the protest. Twenty five colleges are already participating and we expect around 30 more colleges to join us in the days to come. We will not call off this mass bunk till the government provides us with a satisfactory solution to our problems,” said Dr Santosh Wakchaure, president, Central MARD.

Minister for Medical Education Vijaykumar Gavit said, “Tomorrow being a public holiday, we will wait till the evening of April 25. If the doctors do not resume duty, the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act would be invoked against them.”

Dr Wakchaure, responding to the minister’s comment, said, “We are students of medical colleges, and not employees appointed by the government and hence MESMA cannot be imposed on us. In no way are we hampering essential services, as there are other senior doctors available at the hospitals to attend to the patients. If the government still tries to invoke MESMA and punish us, we will quit our peaceful approach of protest and get down on the streets more aggressively.” 

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