Junior doctors in Gandhi Hospital went on an indefinite strike on Wednesday by boycotting their services in protest against the Telangana government, for not resuming non-COVID-19 services in the hospital. The junior doctors had earlier issued an ultimatum to the government; however, as the Health Minister failed to acknowledge their plea, several junior doctors went on a protest. The protest will not affect the services in the hospital, as there are adequate health staff to take care of the COVID-19 patients availing healthcare in the hospital.
Gandhi Hospital, the apex tertiary hospital of Telangana, was declared as the ‘Centre of Excellence for COVID-19 Care’ earlier in March, and the state-run hospital is solely dedicated to treating COVID-19 cases. The protesting junior doctors fear that they will lose out on their academics due to lack of training in other specialisations, if the government continues to treat the hospital as a COVID-19 care facility.
The Telangana Junior Doctors Association (TJUDA) had given a representation regarding this to the Director of Medical Education and the Hospital Superintendent earlier in October, threatening that they would boycott their services from November 1 if their demand is not fulfilled.
“Junior doctors, who are going to complete their academic year, missed out on learning key skills as their services have been limited to attending and caring for COVID-19 patients. There is discontent among the doctors that they haven’t been able to practice speciality skills. On the other hand, the administration and government do not want to add the risk factor of treating general patients at the hospital,” a senior doctor was quoted as saying by the Deccan Chronicle.
The administration said that the hospital infrastructure cannot accommodate both non-COVID-19 and COVID-19 patients, without compromising the safety of the patients.
According to The New Indian Express, the protesting doctors argue that there are just around 300 COVID-19 cases in the hospital, and surplus staff of 600 resident doctors, 350 interns, 600 nurses and 600 patient care staff — resources that can be used to treat thousands of general patients.
Telangana presently has 17,323 COVID-19 patients, with a death toll of 1393.