Srinagar: For Haseena of Tral, a visit to the SMHS Hospital on Tuesday afternoon turned distressing as “careless” doctors abandoned her 8-year-old son in Emergency ward in the middle of treatment for acute dehydration.
Haseena says her son was referred to GB Pant Children Hospital from a hospital in Tral. But, according to her, the officials at the hospital refused to admit her son and instead told her to go to SMHS.
“Now he is being denied treatment here, too. I can’t see my son die like this. Where will we go now?” she lamented.
Haseena said that two on-duty consultants, a male and female, misbehaved with her. “They were rude to us after we asked them to see our ailing son. Instead of treating him, they told us to go to other hospitals. They said they can’t handle so many patients in the absence of resident doctors,” Haseena said.
Aisha, 3, from Pampore, had a fall this afternoon. Her parents brought her to SMHS Hospital in serious condition. No doctor attended the child at the emergency for almost 30 minutes.
It was only after some attendants shouted that a junior doctor pacified them and accompanied the aggrieved parents to their child. The doctor advised them to get an emergency CT scan done, as the little girl had suffered convulsions continuously.
Such was the state of patient care in six associated hospitals under Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar on Tuesday where nearly 500 resident doctors have boycotted emergency and routine duties to press for their demand of pay hike.
Many critical patients had to go back after they were denied treatment at the tertiary-care hospitals in Srinagar, as resident doctors stayed away from emergency duty. Emergency wards and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) of these hospitals witnessed chaos and confusion as attendants struggled to find doctors.
The critical areas of the hospitals were handled by interns with a backup support of few consultants till 4pm.
In Medical ICU of SMHS Hospital, a Medical Officer has been assigned to look after critical patients till 4pm.
When Kashmir Reader visited the critical areas, the senior doctors were found refusing treatment to most of the patients at Emergency, citing the strike of resident doctors.
Some of the senior doctors were hiding in changing rooms and behind the almirah to skip their assigned duties.
“They should leave their job and run some business to earn money. They should not continue with this sacred profession,” said Ashraf Ahmad, an attendant of a patient in ICU.
On the other hand, the representative of doctors justified their strike and accused authorities of being callous towards their long-pending demands.
The doctors are agitating over pay at par with that of resident doctors at SKIMS Soura. “The pay at GMC hospitals is far less than at SKIMS Soura, which is gross injustice with us,” said Dr Irfan Mir, a representative of the agitating doctors.
“We have decided to continue the strike because our demands remain unmet. We all stand together,” he said.
The doctors were also angry at the relieving order served on their 21 colleagues. “In response to the unfortunate action taken by the Principal GMC Srinagar, we have submitted en-masse resignation as a mark of protest against such dictator-like approach,” Dr Irfan said.
“We are asking to remove pay disparity, make adequate security arrangements for residents on duty, provide basic amenities like a canteen in the campus,” he said.
“We have resorted to this extreme step of going on strike only after multiple failed talks and assurances that turned out to be false,” he said.
Principal GMC Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid, told Kashmir Reader that all the striking doctors will be “terminated” if they don’t resume duties at the earliest.
“They can’t keep ailing people hostage like this. If they don’t resume their duties, we will terminate all of them and ask BOPEE to select a fresh lot of doctors,” she said.
According to her, the administration has already accepted the doctors’ demands in the past. “They will be getting salary as per the 7th Pay Commission recommendations. Their other demands will be fulfilled in due course of time. We cannot fulfil all the demands in one go,” she said.