Protesting the inaction of police against the attack on a lady doctor in Thiruvananthapuram, doctors of government hospitals in the district boycotted outpatient (OP) services on Friday. The strike was led by Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA).
In solidarity with the protesting doctors of government hospitals, medical practitioners in private hospitals in the district under Indian Medical Association (IMA) also boycotted OPs for two hours on Friday morning.
A lady doctor of the Community Health Centre at Pallikkal in Thiruvananthapuram district was verbally abused and physically attacked by the patient’s husband on September 14. Though a complaint was filed in the issue, no action was taken in the incident and this has triggered the government hospital doctors in the district to go on strike.
Though outpatient wings in around 120 government hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram remained closed on Friday, intensive care units, casualty wings and other emergency services were not disrupted. There are about 20 government hospitals in the district with emergency wings and all of them remained open on Friday, stated officials of KGMOA. No untoward incidents were reported in the district.
“It has become an alarming situation. Everywhere in the country, we can see the attacks against doctors and it is increasing. Though our strike is triggered by the attack on the lady doctor, we are addressing a much bigger issue which is happening in the country,” Dr GS Vijayakrishnan, state secretary of KGMOA, told TNM.
According to members of KGMOA, the lady doctor was insulted with inappropriate words and was beaten on her hands. “The incident happened when the doctor referred the patient who came with a small cyst on her back, to a surgeon because such cases are not checked in a community health centre. The patient left the place and came back with her husband, who began to verbally abuse the doctor. When the doctor tried to record the incident on her phone, the man hit her hands. The doctor is a familiar face there and she was badly humiliated,” Dr Vijayakrishnan says, describing the incident.
Taking up the issue, Health Minister KK Shailaja on Thursday stated that she has asked the state police chief to look into the matter and take appropriate action. “No incidents of attack against hospitals and staffs will be tolerated. The staff should be able to work peacefully in the hospital,” the minister stated in a Facebook post. She also added that if there are any grievances, complaints should be made to higher-ups without resorting to attacks.
Meanwhile, medical practitioners also stress that the increasing rush in government hospitals and shortage of adequate staff, is a major problem faced by both doctors and patients alike.
“Kerala’s government hospitals follow the staff pattern which came into being in 1965-70. Though some modifications were made, there is still an inadequacy of staff compared to the increasing number of patients. In Western countries, a doctor treats about 20-30 patients a day, but here in a government hospital, about 200-300 patients consult a doctor in a day. This is having an effect on the time a doctor is spending with a patient. There is no immediate solution for this, but this has to be genuinely addressed,” says Dr Vijayakrishnan.