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Monday, April 12, 2021

Telangana doctors on a warpath: Incident explained in 12 points

Times change, people change, new challenges emerge but the rowdy attitude towards doctors remains the same. The recent protests by over 500 junior doctors at Gandhi Hospital, Telangana’s largest Covid-19 care facility, are the reflection of that shameful mindset. The protest entered Day-3 on Thursday with no solution in sight so far.

Here are 12 points about the doctors’ protests that you must know

1. Two persons assaulted a third-year postgraduate medical student after their kin, a Covid-19 patient, died at Gandhi Hospital on Tuesday. Enraged, junior doctors launched the protests at night, condemning the assault. The medicos have been boycotting all duties, including emergencies, since then.

2. The deceased’s kin reportedly attacked a duty doctor with a plastic chair after the patient collapsed and died in a washroom. They attacked the doctor with a metal chair too after he failed to survive the patient through resuscitation. As per a report published on The Hindu, the doctor who was assaulted said the patient was suffering from mild respiratory failure and was supported by a medical device. The patient’s kin were informed about his critical condition. But the patient himself ignored the doctor’s advice not to remove his oxygen mask and went to the washroom.

3. The protesting doctors demand better protection at workplace, immediate recruitment of specialist doctors, nursing and paramedic staff, patient care providers and ward boys.

4. They said exhaustion owing to excessive work pressure during the pandemic is affecting their work. The doctors blamed the state for ignoring their long-pending demand to recruit new staff.

5. The doctors also demanded the state to decentralise Covid-19 care to lessen the mounting pressure at Gandhi Hospital. With all these demands, the doctors sent a written memorandum to chief minister KCR Rao and health minister Eatala Rajender.

6. Rajender called the doctors on Wednesday for a meeting. However, the doctors continued their agitation as no solution came out.

7. Since Thursday morning, the junior doctors, holding placards and shouting slogans, squatted on the road in front of the hospital. The placards read “We condemn the attack”, “Save doctors”. They said they didn’t get any assurance about their demands from the health ministry so far.

8. As per reports, during Wednesday’s meeting, the health minister assured that suspected Covid-19 patients will be distributed to other hospitals for isolation care to lessen the burden from Gandhi Hospital. But the protesting doctors said providing isolation care by other state hospitals is not enough, rather they should equally share the load of Covid-19 patients along with Gandhi Hospital.

9. On Thursday, the minister called them for another round of talks. He assured that he would take the matter to the chief minister and come up with a solution.

“The health minister listened to our problems and said he will take the matter to the chief minister. He did not clearly tell what we should do with our issues. We wanted a time-bound solution.” – Dr Lohith Reddy, president of the Telangana Junior Doctors’ Association. Source: indianexpress.com.

10. At present, total 350 resident doctors, 180 house surgeons are on strike. Another 250 government doctors are trying to fulfill their gap.

11. The doctors said that decentralisation of care and recruitment of new staff is urgent as all 2000 patients of Gandhi Hospital are critical. And insufficient number of doctors and staff cannot cater to them for 24 hours. Also, doctors cannot extend their work shifts as wearing PPE for a 12-hour period is an exhausting experience. The doctors also said that they haven’t met their families for three months now.

Reports say doctors are overworked and suffering from high stress for long hours of duty in PPE. Photo: Shutterstock

12. Police have filed a case under relevant sections of the IPC and also the Epidemic Diseases Act and Telangana Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions Act, 2008, against the against the assailants. They assured that strict action would be taken against the guilty and violence against doctors, the frontline soldiers, would never be tolerated.

We all know that doctors across the world are fighting the pathogen. Those who belong to this profession are busiest species on earth now! Showering flower petals on them from a copter doesn’t make any sense if we can’t give them minimum respect.

Doctors need PPE, not flower petals, they need sensible work schedule, not an inhuman work environment, they need our support, not clacking of utensils from balconies! But do our ministers care about what they want? A virus can make anybody ill, it doesn’t spare anybody, not even a powerful politician. If we fail to understand the doctors’ demands, we will have to go through more miseries in the days to come.

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