Patient care at Delhi’s Centre-run Ram Manohar Lohia, Safdarjung and Lady Hardinge hospitals were hit as resident doctors boycotted all routine and emergency services for the second consecutive day on Tuesday as part of a nationwide protest over the delay in NEET-PG 2021 counselling.
The protest was called by the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA).
FORDA president Dr Manish on Tuesday evening said if their demands are not met the resident doctors will hold a protest march to the Union Health Ministry’s office at Nirman Bhawan here.
“We are going to hold a meeting of representatives from resident doctors’ associations (RDAs) across the country on Wednesday afternoon and then decide accordingly,” he said.
Sharing a video clip of Sansad TV, FORDA tweeted in the evening, “Thankful to Hon’ble Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sir (Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha) for raising the issue of nationwide agitation of Resident Doctors in Parliament. We hope for an early resolution of the issue.”
In the tweet, FORDA put the hashtag ‘expedite NEET-PG counselling 2021′ and tagged the Twitter handles of the Prime Minister’s Office, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and the Health Ministry.
FORDA president, in an update on a social media platform, claimed that he had a “telephonic conversation” with some health ministry officials on Tuesday night.
“Since there has been no concrete measure taken by the concerned authorities yet for expediting NEET-PG counselling, as assured yesterday, our agitation in the form of withdrawal from all services, will continue. The strike will continue,” he wrote on the platform.
Earlier in the day, AIIMS Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) said its members will wear black ribbons at work in support of the support the cause of the overburdened resident doctors of the country and against the delay in NEET-PG counselling.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to ensure that post-graduate admissions are done on a war footing.
The Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital administration on Monday had issued a circular saying that all residents doctors appointed on ad-hoc “cannot indulge themselves nor participate in any strike activity”.
“Non-observance of the rules attracts disciplinary action as deemed fit, including termination. This issue with the approval of Medical Superintendent,” the circular warned.
General Secretary of Safdarjung Hospital RDA Dr Anuj Aggarwal said, “We are continuing with the protest because of no concrete action by the Union Health Ministry.”
The resident doctors have been waiting patiently for some positive outcomes of the Supreme Court proceedings in the matter. However, there seems no respite to the physical and mental distress, said Dr Sunil Duchania, the president of RDA at Lady Hardinge Medical College.
“As withdrawal from OPD and all routine services didn’t bring any concrete response from the authorities, the resident doctors have withdrawn from all services (routine as well as emergency) from December 6 in support of the nationwide protest called by FORDA,” Dr Sunil Duchania said.
The Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum (PMSF), in a statement, said the delay in PG admissions have left them “overworked” and the patients that they treat “underserved”.
“Those PG students from current batches who survived their peers in the aftermath of the pandemic have not only suffered immense personal losses but have also lost nearly two years of post-graduate learning which a resident doctor is supposed to acquire during their two to three years of training,” it said.
“PMSF will not tolerate any punitive action against resident doctors just for protesting which is their democratic right. PMSF stands resolute with the protesting residents and demands that NEET-PG counselling is conducted immediately.”
It also demanded a sincere effort to streamline and strengthen the NEET-PG admission process so that the scenario is not repeated.
The AIIMS RDA said the delay in NEET-PG counselling is depriving Indian citizens of services of around 42,000 doctors who would have otherwise joined at least six months ago.
“Several hospitals are functioning with just two-third capacity of their total resident doctors’ strength, compromising with the quality of patient care. As cases of the new variant of coronavirus are increasing exponentially globally, it is prudent that our nation should be prepared for another wave of the pandemic,” it said.
The RDA requested the Supreme Court and the Health Ministry to hasten the process of NEET-PG 2021 counselling in public and the nation’s interest.
The IMA on Monday expressed concern over the manpower shortage in healthcare amid detection of cases of Omicron variant, and said it is “disastrous to note the postponement of NEET-PG admission in medical colleges”.
As the resident doctors boycotted work, Mandaviya met the resident doctors and a FORDA delegation at the RML hospital on Monday.
According to FORDA members, the minister and said he will get the case mentioned in the Supreme Court for an early hearing and appealed to the doctors to call off their protest, but the resident doctors refused.
The Director-General of Health Services visited the Safdarjung Hospital on Monday where he appealed to the resident doctors to call off the protest.
(Cover: Representational image getty)