The protest by around 500 junior doctors at the Gandhi Hospital, the biggest COVID Care Centre in Telangana, will continue until they receive a favourable response to their demand to decentralise COVID cases (distribution to various hospitals). The protest was launched on Tuesday night after a third-year post-graduate medical student was allegedly attacked by attendants of a deceased COVID-19 patient.
Though Health Minister Eatala Rajender’s office claimed that the junior doctors have called off their protest, Telangaan Junior Doctors Association, Gandhi unit president A. Lohit Reddy said that they have decided to continue the strike. The medicos boycotted all duties, including emergencies.
Apart from distribution of the cases to other hospitals, they have also demanded better protection for them at the hospital.
Around 300 PGs and 200 House Surgeons (MBBS interns) boycotted duties which raised questions on how Telangana government hospital’s administration would handle COVID-19 patients admitted there.
House surgeons and PG medical students come under the umbrella term ‘junior doctors’.They play a key role in attending to all the cases. Apart from patients in general wards, the junior doctors attend patients in Intensive Care Units (ICU).
Currently, majority of the COVID-19 patients in the State are admitted to Gandhi Hospital. Though there was discontentment among them about the work load and the way the pandemic is handled by the State government, they pressed for their demands after the medico was attacked.
The T-JUDA Gandhi Hospital unit president Dr Lohit Reddy said that the third-year PG student Dr Venkannagari Vikas Reddy was attending a 55-year-old patient admitted at the Acute Medical Care (AMC) ward on Tuesday night.
The patient who was admitted four days ago suffered from mild respiratory failure and was supported by CPAP, a medical device. The patient’s attendants were informed of the critical health condition.
Dr Vikas Reddy who was attacked said that though the patient was informed not to remove the oxygen mask, the patient removed it, went to washroom and collapsed and died on Tuesday night.
“We don’t know how did the two attendants got to know about it. They ran towards the patient, saw him and ran towards us. They threw a plastic chair which broke on hitting my hand. Then they threw an iron stool. I ducked and it hit my hip,” said Dr Vikas. He is suffering from pain in muscles. Fingers were pointed at allowing entry to the two attendants into the hospital.
Hyderabad police have arrested two accused.
In a similar incident, another junior doctor at the hospital was assaulted by attendants of a patient on April 1.
The hospital already mired in allegations about lapses in treatment, plunged into another crisis after around 500 junior doctors boycotted duties. The medicos who launched protest on Tuesday night continued to protest till around 3 a.m of Wednesday despite getting drenched in rain.
They resumed it on Wednesday morning and shifted the protest from the hospital premises to the main Musheerabad road.
They also demanded immediate recruitment of specialist and broad-specialist doctors, nurses, para-medical staff, ward boys, patient care providers.
After holding talks with the junior doctors on Wednesday evening, Mr Rajender’s office said that they called off the strike.
However, T-JUDA members said that they were not given any assurance that the cases would be decentralised or the time by which it would be done.
Dr Lohit Reddy said, “In view of our demands not being met, we have decided to continue our strike until there is a positive decision on decentralisation.”