Attendants manhandle a doctor sparking protest; hospital functions with half its strength

For the second time in a week, student doctors struck work after one of them was “manhandled” by attendants of a patient at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. According to the striking doctors, a neurosurgery post-graduate student, A. Rajesh, who was on duty in the hospital's trauma ward 201, was prevented on Saturday morning from attending to Ilayamudhan, a lawyer who had come for treatment as an assault victim.

“A group of people who had accompanied the patient tried to enter the ward and Dr. Rajesh told them that except for one or two attendants, others should leave the ward. The group got angry and pushed the doctor and verbally abused him,” said C. Kathirvel, president of Tamil Nadu Postgraduate and Compulsory Rotatory Residential Internship Doctors Association.

Following this, junior doctors squatted in front of the Tower Block 1, refusing to attend to patients. Despite several rounds of conciliatory talks by Dean V. Kanagasabai, the doctors did not return to work. He advised the students to give a written complaint about the incident, which, he said, he would forward to the police.

Dr. Kathirvel said they had made three demands to the Dean. “We want the hospital to prevent attendants from entering the ward. The man who assaulted the doctor should be arrested and police should protect us and not remain mute spectators,” he said.

When he was reminded that this was the second time in the week that the student doctors were on strike, he said it was not true that the student doctors had not sustained injuries in the previous incident. “In the attack on May 28, four of the seven doctors had sustained blunt injuries like contusion in arms, shoulder and legs while three of them had sustained abrasions. Also, the duty chief medical officer did not respond to our request even though we had sought help,” he said.

Eyewitnesses said the dean was seen speaking to patients and promising that they would be attended to, even as the doctors stuck to their demands. Resident Medical Officer Anand Pratap said the police also registered a FIR but the hospital functioned with half its strength as 50 percent of the junior doctors stayed away from work.

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