With the mounting pressure of COVID-19 cases on Gandhi Hospital, doctors said that they would continue to strike until the government assures decentralisation.

Gandhi Hospital Doctors presenting their list of demands to Health Minister Eatala Rajender
Coronavirus Protest Wednesday, June 10, 2020 - 21:27

Doctors from Hyderabad’s Gandhi Hospital have decided to continue their strike, which began on Tuesday night, after a meeting with Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender on Wednesday. Several junior doctors had gone on strike after a deceased COVID-19 patient’s relatives attacked doctors on duty on Tuesday. 

“We have decided to boycott COVID-19 duties. The talks with the government have failed. Whatever issues we highlighted, the Health Minister kept saying he would speak to the Chief Minister and decide. He didn't assure a single thing. We will announce further proceedings tomorrow,” Dr Shashidhar, a member of the Telangana Junior Doctors Association (TJUDA) who works at Gandhi Hospital, told TNM. 

The demands of the striking doctors included the deployment of paramilitary forces at government teaching hospitals, as well as recruitment of more staff and adequate provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits and N95 masks. One of the primary demands was not to bring all COVID-19 cases to the hospital, as there has been excessive pressure on Gandhi Hospital, which has been designated as the nodal hospital for COVID-19 patients in the state. 

A statement from TJUDA said that the strike will continue until there is a positive decision on decentralisation.

Dr Vishnu, President of the TJUDA said, “Since it is state government policy, the Minister said he cannot promise the decentralisation of COVID-19 cases himself. He said it will have to be discussed with the cabinet, and promised to take the matter to the Chief Minister’s notice. He said he would try and see to it that things work in favour of the doctors.”

Read: Don't bring all COVID-19 cases to Gandhi Hospital only: Protesting doctors in Telangana 

Another key demand was the pending implementation of the state government’s orders to deploy Special Protection Force (SPF) personnel at state government hospitals. 

On Tuesday night, a 55-year-old COVID-19 patient died after passing out while walking to the toilet without assistance from hospital staff. Doctors said that the patient had removed his CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machine which was meant to help him breath, despite being advised against it. Following the patient’s death, two of his relatives entered the Acute Medical Care (AMC) ward where there were 65 COVID-19 patients, and attacked the on-duty doctors by throwing plastic and metal chairs at them.

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