Boycott of duties becomes a regular affair
It happens with alarming regularity. Angry relatives blame government doctors for the death of patients and assault the doctors on emergency duties.
On all occasions, the junior doctors who usually man the emergency departments end up being the victims of assaults.
In the last five years, medicos in the capital boycotted their duties including emergencies on more than four occasions. While some protests lasted for a week before health officials managed to convince medicos to call their agitation off, on other occasions, the strike continued for over a month.
In fact, in December 2007, junior doctors went on a strike for over a month demanding posting of special protection force at hospitals.
Even after 2007, despite the government agreeing to provide SPF cover, sporadic incidents of assaults on junior doctors in the city and elsewhere like King George Hospital (KGH), Visakhapatnam continued.
“The Special Protection Force cover, which was provided in 2007, was withdrawn by 2010. Authorities did not show commitment in funding the SPF cover in teaching hospitals,” members of A.P. Junior Doctors Association (APJUDA) said.
After withdrawing SPF cover, authorities posted constables at Niloufer Hospital for a while. “The reason we protest is because posting constables is not enough. Last year, our colleagues were beaten up in Niloufer Hospital in the presence of a constable,” APJUDA members said.
In May 2011, after a similar attack on junior doctors by an angry crowd, a committee headed by the then Director of Medical Education (DME), Dr. Ravi Raju was constituted.
The committee took up a comprehensive assessment of security requirement in all 14 teaching hospitals in the State.
Admitting that there was a need to provide security at government hospitals, health authorities maintain that SPF cover is a costly affair.
“Compared to police personnel, SPF cover is costly. Over Rs. 2 crore will be required to maintain SPF in all the teaching hospitals. This is expensive when compared to police,” health authorities here maintain.