Patients in Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad had a harrowing time on Friday after junior doctors in the three government-run medical colleges and hospitals boycotted OPD services in a show of solidarity with the protesting doctors in West Bengal. Junior doctors across West Bengal are on strike since June 10, protesting against an alleged assault on a medical intern by relatives of an 87-year-old patient who died in Kolkata’s NRS hospital premises.
Junior doctors boycotted OPD duties at Rajendra Institute of Medical Science (RIMS), Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College Hospital (MGMMCH) and Patliputra Medical College Hospital (PMCH) and demanded that West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee take action against the culprits immediately. However, senior doctors across the state attended to patients, wearing black badges.
The massive impact of junior doctors’ boycotting their duties was felt at RIMS Ranchi where long queues of patients were seen at all OPDs. Patients particularly had a difficult time at medicine, surgery, skin, eye and orthopaedic OPDs. Some of the patients were seen returning from OPDs due to the seemingly unending queues.
Govind Mahato, a patient from Powarganj in Lohardaga town, about 70 kms from Ranchi, visited RIMS but returned due to the commotion in the hospital. “I had no information about the sudden strike of doctors. I came here for the medical examination of my ailing grandson but had to return without treatment,” said Mahato.
Malti Murmu (45), a resident of Namkum in Ranchi, failed to consult a doctor despite waiting till noon at the gynaecology OPD. “The hospital should not have registered my name in the morning if the doctors were on strike. After being registered, I thought the doctor would check patients in the OPD, but they wasted my time and money,” she said.
Before beginning their boycott, junior doctors at RIMS staged a street play on the role of doctors in providing health services in the campus and sought cooperation from all teachers for their OPD boycott. Junior doctors also wore helmets and staged a sit-in protest in front of RIMS director Dr DK Singh’s chamber.
“We strongly condemn the attitude of Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. We would be compelled to intensify our agitation if all the culprits are not arrested soon,” said Dr Ajit Prasad, JDA president.
Junior doctors at the Ranchi Institute of Neuro-Psychiatry and Allied Science (RINPAS) in Kanke also boycotted OPD services in solidarity with the JDA.
OPD did not function after 10.30 am at PMCH Dhanbad due to the boycott call by junior doctors. At MGMMCH, OPD did not function after 11 am. IMA Jamshedpur secretary Dr Mritunjay Kumar Singh said many doctors in private nursing homes also skipped their OPD duties in solidarity with protesting junior doctors.
Patients at Bokaro General Hospital (BGH) had also returned unattended from OPD as junior doctors boycotted services.
In the evening, the Jharkhand chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Jharkhand Health Service Association (JHSA) and JDA took out a protest march from RIMS.
“It is unfortunate that doctors who serve patients day and night were thrashed and the government did not act properly against culprits”, said Dr Pradeep Kumar Singh, IMA secretary.