Gangadharappa was tense. He rushed into the Yelahanka General hospital holding a 450 ml packet of blood for his wife in labour. But the hospital was so short-staffed due to the doctors’ strike on Friday there was no one to ensure she got the blood. On the verge of tears, he had no idea how to go about getting it administered to his wife.
Susheelamma, from Byalatkere near Kunigal, whose husband is in K.C. General Hospital with jaundice, was tense that he was not getting medical attention. “He had to be given blood today and there is no one to attend to him,” she told The Hindu.
Rukmini, eight months pregnant, missed her monthly check-up at K.C. General because the doctor wasn’t there. Similarly Raziya Banu, whose nine-month-old infant had to get vaccinated, was upset that she had to come back for it.
These hard-pressed citizens were among the hundreds deprived of medical attention because of the strike called by the doctors and staff of the Health and Family Welfare Department.
Almost all the hospitals run by the Health Department — except for BBMP-run and Bowring and Lady Curzon, Victoria, Vani Vilas and Minto as they are run by the Medical Education Department — wore a deserted look. Some displayed a notice that doctors were on strike. While most patients returned disappointed, some hovered around, hoping a doctor would be moved to attend to them. Most said they could not afford to go to private hospitals or spend on transport to reach Vani Vilas, Victoria or Bowring hospitals.
Some general hospitals in Malleswaram (K.C. General), Jayanagar and Yelahanka had a smattering of doctors attending to emergencies. Two doctors and 30 nurses were attending to 177 inpatients at K.C. General Hospital. Medical Superintendent R.L. Chandraprabha said doctors were doing so on humanitarian grounds. The dialysis unit in this hospital functioned normally.
Doctors at the Yelahanka hospital said despite the strike, they would be attending to childbirths and emergencies. They said they had conducted a round of inspection and had attended to nine emergency cases in the morning.
A staff member at the Yelahanka General Hospital said some of them had reported to work on humanitarian grounds as “14 post-operative cases required antibiotics periodically.”
The situation was similar at the Jayanagar General Hospital. Ravi, a resident of Garepalya, had come with his wife to the hospital as she had to undergo scanning and blood tests. “We came here because we have previously come here and trust this hospital,” he said.
Salma, who came from Neelsandra, said her son had been admitted last Monday and had to get several tests done as he had been running a fever. “The doctors are conducting blood tests as they suspect the fever could be due to dengue, typhoid or some other illness. Though there are a few doctors attending to patients, it is the first time I am seeing the usually crowded hospital so empty,” she told The Hindu.
Medical Superintendent Saroja B.G. said there had been three deliveries on Friday morning and though less than 10 per cent of the staff was working, all emergency cases would be attended to.
There were also instances of those wanting to attend to poor and desperate patients, but were threatened into backing off by the strikers. One of The Hindu’s reporters was witness to kind-hearted health assistants quickly and furtively lending a hand to help patients. But they were threatened into leaving the premise, stranding the patients.