Doctors continue to work under threat of violence

Namrata Devikar
Sunday, 17 December 2017

As we come to the close of 2017, Sakal Times revisits the major happenings that took place in the State during the year. This report tracks the upheaval caused in the medical fraternity, which in turn made patients suffer and exposed the State government's lackadaisical attitude towards medical services.

Pune: The resident doctors' state-wide strike against the increasing assaults against them crippled the public healthcare system across the State in March for around six days, affecting in a major way patients in public hospitals. Around 4,500 resident doctors went on mass leave, sparking concerns among people. 

Though this strike gained support from the medical fraternity, the State government hasn't been able to take concrete steps to ensure security at hospitals or strengthen doctor-patient relationships till date. 

Speaking to Sakal Times, Dr Ajay Vane, General Secretary, Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), Sassoon General Hospital and Government Medical College, said the issue is still not solved. 

What MARD has to say 
"Resident doctors work under pressure as we don't know by whom and when we will be attacked. We want our safety during working hours, so that we can concentrate better on giving treatment to our patients. Our demand has not been fulfilled yet. Everyday, we are either threatened by a mob in the casualty ward or outside the operation theatre for no reasons," said Vane. 

Doctors' plight 
Though there were some unsuccessful attempts by the State government to resolve the issue, there were a few attacks again. Similarly, the government pressurised MARD to withdraw the strike. Speaking to Sakal Times, city-based Dr Nitin Bhagali said workplace safety is the basic right o f any worker in the world. 

"Various state governments have failed to provide protection and security to resident doctors, who are overworked and have to deal with cases of life and death round the clock. Public hospitals are in a pathetic state as the allocation of funds for health is very poor. Inadequate manpower, poor resources and long waiting for treatment builds up anger among patients' relatives, leading to such unfortunate incidents. The never ending duty hours and workload exhausts resident doctors. Poor communication with patients and their relatives adds fuel to fire when the results are unfavorable," said Dr Bhagali. 

He said the policy of centralised admissions escalated the miscommunication as student doctors from one state are posted in a distant state, where language barrier impedes dialogue with local people. 

"Counseling of relatives of grievously ill patients should be entrusted to senior doctors. The act made to prevent attacks on hospitals must be implemented in its true spirit. Politicians, judiciary and media should help build trust among doctors in a positive way," said Dr Bhagali. 

The solution 
Talking to Sakal Times about a probable solution, Dr Vane said that along with armed security personnel, the institute should take responsibility if anything happens to resident doctors.

"Initially, the authorities provided 70 per cent security for a week and gave an assurance that remaining will be provided within a month. But later the number of security personnel decreased as they were not paid on time. The periphery colleges are still awaiting security. The pass system has also collapsed," said Dr Vane. 

He said medical colleges should support doctors while filing FIRs. "Sometimes the case takes a long time to get resolved, which adversely impacts our services and studies. The State government should make sure these matters are resolved within six months through fast-track courts," said Dr Vane.   

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