Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) members continued their mass bunk for the third day despite getting a notice of expulsion from their respective college administrations. However, realising the plight of patients, resident doctors held parallel Out Patient Department (OPD) at their respective hospitals to avoid inconvenience to patients.
Initially, the notice issued to resident doctors warned them of expulsion from medical college and their hostel accommodation by yesterday evening if they did not withdraw their mass bunk. However, the deadline was extended until today afternoon. Following the mass bunk that started on Tuesday, all BMC-run tertiary hospitals had shut down their regular OPDs yesterday due to lack of sufficient staff to run the department. This forced the hospital to turn down patients or refer them to state-run JJ hospital or private hospitals in the city.
“Patients were not being given registration forms or allowed to step inside the new OPD building so we decided to run parallel OPD outside the hospital premises,” said Dr Nilesh Katole, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) member of Sion Hospital. Resident doctors from various departments attended to the flow of patients from 11 am to 1.30 pm outside Sion hospital but only managed to treat 150 patients as compared to over 500 patients who are treated in the regular OPD daily from 9 am to 1.30 pm.
At Sion and Nair Hospital, the parallel OPD was held on the footpath outside the hospital’s entrance. At KEM, doctors attended patients near the public ground opposite hospital premises.
MARD arranged for basic medicines from nearby pharmacies that cost them around Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000. “We have arranged for funds to provide patients with basic medicines if not antibiotics,” said Dr Swapnil Kulkarni, secretary of central MARD.
Around 337 patients were treated in the parallel OPD of Nair Hospital and 420 in Parel’s KEM Hospital according to MARD members. In Nair Hospital, 143 patients were treated in the regular OPD. Only 17 major surgeries and nine deliveries were conducted in the hospital as compared to Sion hospital where 35 surgeries were conducted.
Government authorities had instructed respective hospital administrations to warn resident doctors to withdraw their protest by yesterday evening or be prepared for expulsion. MARD representatives unanimously claimed that no matter what the consequences, they would continue with their mass bunk. They were also prepared to pack their belongings and pile them up outside hospital premises if they are forced to vacate their hostels.
When the evening deadline approached, sources confirmed that Minister for Medical Education Dr Vijaykumar Gavit extended the deadline until today noon. As per the new notice, if any resident doctor does not resume duty by noon today, they will be expelled.
MARD members also held a skit outside CST station to create awareness about their issue and the reason behind their mass bunk. They alleged that the government was trying to mislead people by stating that the sole reason for the protest was revision in their stipends, however, there are several other issues involved in it.
Resident doctors in civic-run hospitals across the city began the mass bunk from April 23, 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. Sources have confirmed that MARD representatives have agreed to a negotiation with DMER (department of medical education and research).