SRINAGAR: A 2-year-old baby is vomiting continuously in the casualty ward of GB Pant Children’s Hospital, the floor all wet with her vomit, on Thursday. Her helpless cries attract a lot of attention; several people gather around and watch. Her mother keeps wiping her mouth and trying to comfort her, while the father runs through the corridors looking for a doctor. He can’t find any.
Tariq Ahmad, father of the little girl named Masooma, along with his wife came from Sumbal, more than 20 kms away from Srinagar, for the treatment of their baby. They had already spent two days in SKIMS Bemina, but there were no signs of recovery. Finally, they decided to admit Masooma to the children’s hospital for specialised treatment.
To their shock, the staff at the emergency department refused to admit the sick child and asked the father to take her to SKIMS Bemina or SKIMS Soura, as there were no doctors present due to the strike. When the father raised a hue and cry, the staff asked him to take the child to the Out Patient Department (OPD).
In the hugely crowded OPD, the child could get less than a minute of the doctor’s attention. Tariq was handed a prescription for medicines and told to go home.
“They are not doctors, they are butchers. What if something happens to my daughter? Who is answerable,” Tariq shouted outside the OPD. His wife was asking him to calm down, fearing that the hospital administration may call security.
The ordeal that Tariq’s family is going through is the same that hundreds of others are going through since Tuesday, when resident doctors of six hospitals associated with Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar went on indefinite strike. They want salary at par with that of resident doctors in SKIMS.
Several families who came to Srinagar from other districts have been asked to go to some other hospital because of the doctors’ strike. A child from Kulgam district, who was referred to Srinagar on Wednesday night, was not admitted to GB Pant Children’s Hospital despite abject pleas by his father. “The father begged for his child to be admitted, but the staff refused, saying no doctor was present,” attendants at the Emergency Ward who witnessed the scene told Kashmir Reader.
“Usually, there are four to five doctors present in the emergency ward, but today there is none. Consultant doctors came for a round in the morning and that was it,” a nurse told this reporter outside the Casualty Ward.
As part of the strike, which GMC Srinagar Principal Dr Samia Rashid has called “absolutely unjustified”, hundreds of resident doctors in Lal Ded Hospital, GB Pant Hospital, SMHS Hospital, Bone and Joint Hospital, Psychiatric Diseases Hospital, and Chest Diseases Hospital have stayed off their duty stations.
Resident doctors also withdrew services from intensive care units and emergency wards of these hospitals. Chaos has prevailed as patients have had to wait for long durations to be seen by consultant doctors.
The dearth of doctors was also witnessed in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), also called Ward no. 5, and Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which are the two most important units at GB Pant in case of complications.
Kashmir Reader came across just one child who was admitted to the hospital a day ago, that too only because the child had a long medical history and the father had warned that his son could die of complications.
A staffer spoke of a “serious situation” if the doctors do not end their strike. “This hospital has a reputation of child deaths even in the presence of doctors. Now imagine what would happen if they continue their strike,” an employee stationed at the PICU ward said.