Srinagar: Cancer patient Ghulam Muhammad Rather, 52, of Saedpur village in Budgam was admitted to the Emergency Ward in SKIMS Soura nine days ago. He had to undergo tests before a fresh chemotherapy session. He is still waiting for the treatment, as the resident doctors are on strike to demand a substantial hike in their stipend, at par with that of resident doctors in AIIMS New Delhi.
“It’s painful for us to stay here. Doctors don’t come to see him. They have simply abandoned us,” says his wife Amina. “We are being asked to wait till the doctors end their strike.”
A cardiologist at SKIMS, wishing anonymity, said of Rather’s treatment, “We need to examine him properly after tests are done, then only we can start a fresh treatment plan for him. He has to wait as we are busy managing the emergency patients. We are already overburdened due to the strike. Such patients are not a priority for us.”
Most of the patients admitted to SKIMS have been put on the waiting list in absence of resident doctors. Their attendants complained that the lives of the patients are at risk because of the resident doctors boycotting emergency duties.
Patient care has been so badly hit that doctors have had to cancel surgeries and limit the intake of patients in the emergency ward.
The resident doctors have deserted all the wards, including emergency, casualty, and operation theatres. The hospital is in chaos with consultant doctors unable to handle the inflow of patients.
Attendants of the critically-ill patients are facing a distressing situation as they have to await emergency surgeries and tests. Hajra Banoo of Ashmuqam in Anantnag district has been waiting for the past five days at the Surgical Emergency ward for doctors to decide on her husband Nazir Ahmad’s surgery. She said her efforts to convince senior doctors have been in vain as they say they are already overburdened.
“We have been waiting here for the past 5 days but no one is attending to us. We are highly apprehensive about my husband’s condition as his tests and MRI is yet to be done,” she said.
Mymona, from Kupwara, says her sister, Tasleema, has suffered a major brain haemorrhage early this week which paralysed her right side, but she, too, has been left unattended. “When we came here, doctors told us to wait for some days. Her condition is worsening every day. How can they keep us waiting? It’s simply inhumane,” she said.
Hundreds of patients like Rather, Tasleema and Nazir who were rushed to SKIMS have been left to fend for themselves as the doctors continue with their strike.
“It’s for the first time in the history of SKIMS that junior doctors have stayed away from emergency duties. It’s inhumane and has no justification. Their demands may be genuine but their way is wrong,” Director SKIMS, Dr Omar Javed Shah, told Kashmir Reader.
He appealed to the doctors to join their duties immediately. “The consultants try to manage patients but the hospital cannot run without resident doctors for long. Some 100 consultants can’t replace 700 resident doctors who manage every ward and section in the hospital,” he said.
The Director said all elective surgeries and procedures have been cancelled for the time being. “We are talking to the representatives of doctors for a possible solution. We will find a way so that they resume duties amicably,” he added.
A representative of the Resident Doctors Association (RDA), Dr Zubair Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader that they would continue with the strike till their demands are met. “We will continue to boycott emergency duties as the government has been deceiving us by its dillydallying tactics,” he said.