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Doctors demand security at Indian hospital

A medic was violently attacked by relatives of a patient who died in the hospital

Gulf News

Mumbai: Angry resident doctors of the government-run Rajawadi Hospital in suburban Ghatkopar, who went on strike on Sunday after one of them was violently attacked by relatives of a patient who died in the hospital, resumed duty on Monday evening. They went back to work after police arrested the culprits and security was assured by the authorities.

“We called off the strike at 5.30pm after the Chief Superintendent of peripheral hospitals Dr Seema Malek met us at a meeting and agreed to our demands,” Dr Swapnil Tople, who represents resident doctors in the hospital, told Gulf News. “We are pleased that three of the close relatives of the deceased patient who were arrested have been charged under Section 452 of the Indian Penal code which is a non-bailable offence.”

More arrests were expected, he said.

About 70 doctors of Rajawadi Hospital, which offers medical services to the poor, accident victims and emergency cases, went on strike after one of their resident doctors was beaten up by the relatives of Afzal Akmal Khan who died after being admitted for six hours in the ICU following a motorbike accident on Saturday. Doctors say the patient was brought in a critical condition and everything was done to save his life. Moreover, the relatives were briefed every 30 minutes about his condition.

A sense of insecurity now prevails among doctors and hospital staff who are yet to come to terms with the violent behaviour of the patient’s relatives, who not only vandalised the ICU but dragged the doctor out of the room after hearing of the patient’s death. “A mob of 20 to 30 people tore the doctor’s clothes and even tried to strangle him. There are visible finger marks on his neck,” said Dr Tople.

As the mob pulled him outside to the gate he managed to escape and locked himself in a room with no lights for nearly two hours.

“Such attacks are happening with regularity and this is the third in the last two months — the first in Bhagwati and then in Bhabha Hospital. It is apparent that the administration has not been taking these occurrences seriously.”

Doctors are now demanding more security since presently there are only two security guards in casualty and two in the ICU, he said.

“This is certainly inadequate considering the high patient load at this hospital and a shortage of resident doctors. The authorities have promised to recruit more security guards but we are not too happy with their promises since they have remained unfulfilled for a long time.”

The resident doctors on Monday gave an ultimatum to the authorities: provide emergency exits for doctors and nurses in case a mob gets violent; ensure that all investigations such as X-rays, CT scans and other tests are installed in one room to save time and ensure there is a 24x7 police force armed with weapons at the hospital premises. If these are not provided within a stipulated time, they have threatened to go on strike again.

Around 4,000 doctors of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors are willing to support them in their struggle.