PUNJAB : Over 10,000 nursing homes, all medical colleges and thousands of OPD clinics stayed shut in Punjab on Monday in support of a nationwide strike called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) over the attack on doctors in Kolkata. Only emergency medical services were operational in hospitals.
In Ludhiana, doctors first gathered at IMA House in BRS Nagar and later took out a protest march from mini secretariat to Bharat Nagar chowk, which led to a traffic jam.
“This is the first time that all hospitals and medical colleges of Punjab have shut down their services for a full day. In the past, we had protested on various issues, but it used to be for 3-4 hours only,” Dr Manoj Sobti, ex- president of IMA, Punjab,
He added, “A number of cases of misbehaviour with doctors have taken place in Punjab as well. Some police cases are going on even now.”
Dr Sobti, a neurosurgeon at Civil Lines, recalled a case in his own hospital two years back. He said a patient’s relatives had vandalised his hospital’s reception and had even reached the OPD ward. “They were agitated because a tumour had reccured, but it can happen. However, they misbehaved with me and even damaged my hospital.”
Last year, a patient had died after being operated on at Ohri Nursing home in Haibowal, after which relatives staged a dharna and got violent. A case was lodged. Last week, an ayurveda practitioner in Patiala was thrashed by a patient’s relatives after the former allegedly gave them expired medicines.
Dr Sobti recalled two more cases in Ludhiana where a patient had died after surgery and a mother had lost her baby due to intra-uterine death. In both cases, nursing homes were damaged and police cases are going on for both incidents, which happened last year.
According to the IMA, 75 per cent doctors face verbal or physical abuse inside hospital premises. A cycle of violent strikes and negative media coverage has tarnished the image of the medical community in India, said protesting doctors.
According to DMCH Managing Society Secretary Prem Kumar Gupta, violence against doctors has increased manifold and there have been many reports concerning medical professionals being roughed up, even killed, by patient’s disgruntled attendants.
DMCH vice-principal Dr G S Wander and Dean Academics Dr Rajoo Singh Chhina, present on the occasion, said that “keeping in view the latest incidents of violence against doctors in West Bengal, the IMA awaits a formal communication from the government of India on the central law against violence against doctors and hospitals.”
Dr P S Jassal, president, IMA Ludhiana, urged the government to take urgent measures to curb the incidents of violence against doctors. He added that in the prevailing atmosphere, doctors are shying away from taking up critical patients and complicated cases.
Dr Sanjeev Uppal, HOD, plastic surgery department at DMCH, explained, “In Punjab, the Protection of Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act 2008 has been implemented, but despite, violent acts by patients’ attendants have been seen in many parts of the state.”
Dr Sobti did not rule out black sheep in the medical profession due to which the doctor-patient relationship was getting strained. However, he said, “There is a proper forum to complain against doctors — consumer forums, IMA, Punjab Medical Council, court etc. However, the law should not be taken in one’s own hands.
Already in India, the doctor-patient ratio is dismal and health services in remote areas are very less.”