Around 2,000 doctors at 20 hospitals in the national capital on Monday, 22 June launched an indefinite strike, demanding adequate lifesaving drugs, security at workplace and timely payment of their salaries.
The strike by resident doctors at 20 hospitals run by the Central and Delhi governments and civic corporations included Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, and Maulana Azad Medical College.
What were the doctors’ demands? In their letter to the Health Minister of Delhi, they have clearly stated (see letter in box 1), that they seek security as they are prone to assault because of the heavy rush of patients especially in labour room, casualty, pediatrics, etc. This is a fact, and rather than addressing this demand as well as other demands, the Delhi Government, declared Essential Services & Maintenance Act, and threatened the doctors.
Whenever Doctors have raised their voice in defense of genuine working and living conditions, the system always portrays the doctors as being callous, as if they do not care for their patients, and that they are holding people’s lives to ransom! They use media and other propaganda to turn the rest of the people against this section of the toiling people. But then who is really anti people, the doctors or the health system?
How can it be anti-people to demand safe drinking water for both patients and doctors, adequate beds, clean and hygienic wards (now infested with pests), decent working hours (now they are made to work more than 8 hrs a day and even up to 100 hrs a week), availability of life-saving drugs, adequate hostel facilities?
It is the responsibility of the health system to ensure cleanliness, hygiene, safe water, adequate patient-bed ratios, access to life saving drugs and also improved working conditions for the resident doctors who are giving their best to meet the needs of the large masses of patients who seek health care in these government and municipal hospitals. This is extremely basic for quality health services.
It is this health system which is anti-people and not the resident doctors. This is not the first time that the doctors have had to resort to strike because their voices go unheard.
Box: Doctors’ Letter to the Health Minister of Delhi
Honorable Health Minister
Ministry of Family Welfare & Health
Government of India
Sub: even after passing of three months many deficiencies are not yet addressed in government hospitals.
With due respect and regard, we the resident doctors of Delhi request you to pay your kind attention on following deficiencies which were discussed earlier on the meetings held in Feb/March 2015. We were assured and promised in written that our problems and deficiencies will he looked after in a subtle way, which never happened. Also no action has been taken on many issues so far. We are again sending you a draft to look into the following issues:
The doctors in hospital are prone to assault from patient’s attendants due to lack of security in hospital and due to heavy rush of patients especially in labour room, casualty, pediatrics, etc.. We would like to bring to your kind notice that despite honorable court’s guidelines of one patient one attendant, it is not being followed and we kindly request you to enforce it strictly. Along with the private security guards it was promised that additional police force will be deployed in govt. hospitals but till now no such arrangement is visible. Many thieves and pickpockets are roaming in the hospital stealing patent’s belongings and cash. So doctors as well as poor patients are suffering.
There are inadequate hostel rooms for resident doctors which forces the resident doctors to live outside which is both expensive and inconvenient. We request you to kindly provide hostel facilities as soon as possible, and also provide residents with additional allowances to meet out the extra expenses till facilities are arranged.
Resident doctors working more than 48 hours a week should be paid extra depending on extra hours. As it affects their personal and social life, which should be compensated. And according to guidelines of Honorable Supreme Court of India, resident doctors should not be made to work more than 48 hours a week. Directives should be given to all HOD’s for ensuring that residents are given POST DUTY OFFS to residents after performing night duties.
There is no proper facility for safe drinking water for doctors and patients in most hospitals, which a basic necessity.
The generic drugs which we prescribe are not available in the hospitals. There should a pharmacy providing only generic drugs in every hospital so that the pour patients should not suffer.
A list of essential life saving drugs and surgical consumables to be made available in all hospitals and zero tolerance to non-availability should be ensured.
All group D staff / OT technicians vacant posts in all hospitals should be filled with immediate effect as it is a cause of altercation between doctors, staff and patients.
Operation theatres are needed to be doubled in all hospitals as patients load is excessive and patients have to wait for a long time to undergo necessary surgical procedure despite the fact the resident strength is sufficient fur reducing such prolonged waiting period which hampers patient care.
Dog menace and pest menace in all hospitals/hostels to be handled with zero tolerance for better patient care.
Doctors duty room (DDR) must be renovated in all hospitals and brought to a basic minimum standard, after showing a sample DDR to the representatives of FORDA.
Emergency DDR to be provided to all the doctors along with A/Cs.
All OPDs should be installed with A/Cs.
The hostels also lack basic facilities for resident doctors, We request you to kindly provide us with basic minimum hostel facilities,( to be decided by respective RDAs)
Patient to bed ratio has to be defined and strictly implemented by all hospitals for better patient care.
The ad-hoc culture leads to harassment of doctors in government hospitals and we request you to formulate a policy to regulate the ad-hoc employees in due course of time and to employ doctors in transparent and regular basis in future. In some hospitals, doctors are appointed for 44 days, which becomes cumbersome for them.
No action taken yet. on proposed upgraded residency scheme.
The minutes of the meetings held in Feb/March 2015 are here attached along with this letter. Kindly do brief us all the earliest regarding the steps which have been taken so far in view the minutes.
Waiting for your earliest response.
Gen, Secy. FORDA