Tension, protests by patients and doctors and political activists and in turn, the fainting of a doctor were witnessed at the units of the T.D. Medical College Hospital situated on the premises of the Alappuzha General Hospital here on Monday, the first day of the referral status being bestowed on the hospital.

The tension began at the Gynaecology outpatient wing of the TDMCH, which is yet to be shifted to the main premises of the TDMCH at Vandanam, when a few patients were reportedly turned away by doctors without being allowed to take new OP tickets without referrals from subordinate hospitals.

Even as the patients were protesting this, a few activists of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) arrived at the hospital and began questioning the doctors, arguing with them. The doctors replied that they were acting only as per government orders, which further infuriated the activists. A female gynaecologist, who was at the receiving end of the political ire, fainted in between. This led to a protest by doctors, who staged a sit-in in front of the hospital.

A police team, which arrived on the spot, finally brought matters under control. The situation in Alappuzha, where there are hardly any private hospitals, unlike other districts, after the ban imposed on private practice by doctors, has been quite uneasy with the TDMCH and the General Hospital being unable to handle the increased load of patients. With a shortage of doctors, staff and essential equipment plaguing most of the primary level health centres and even the secondary and tertiary level hospitals, the public has been voicing its protest against the ban on private practice.

The TDMCH, parts of which are still to be shifted to the new premises at Vandanam, has been without a morgue for more than three weeks, with the existing one at the General Hospital premises going defunct. Even the operation theatres on the Vandanam premises have not been functional regularly, with the theatres being shut down for repairs several times in the last one month.

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