Patna: At least 16 patients died for want of proper medical attention in Bihar as the health services remained badly affected in state’s premier Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) for the second consecutive day on Friday owing to strike by the junior doctors.

The junior doctors who are considered the backbone of health services in the state proceeded on lightning strike on Thursday after being allegedly assaulted by the attendants of a patient who died shortly after being admitted to the hospital. The attendants allege the patient died owing to gross negligence on part of the doctors while the latter claims he was “brought dead”. Whatever may be the fact, the striking doctors have announced not to return to duty until adequate security was provided to them.

Reports quoting local media said at least 16 patients admitted to the emergency ward have died in the past 24 hours owing to lack of medical attention by doctors who remain on strike. On Thursday, a total of 23 operations were deferred while around 1,100 patients returned without treatment due to the continuing strike which has paralysed health services in state’s premier government hospital located in the state capital.

“We won’t return to work until the state government provides us adequate security,” Junior Doctors Association (JDA) president Vinay Kumar told the media on Friday adding, “Whenever such incidents take place, it is the junior doctors who are at the receiving end.” The junior doctors are also seeking licence for firearms to maintain their own safety.

Authorities said they are trying to break the deadlock. “We have been trying to persuade them to withdraw the stir besides requesting the administration for better security arrangements at the hospital. Senior doctors are taking care to ensure that serious patients do not suffer,” PMCH superintendent Dr Deepak Tandon told the media on Friday.

Trouble broke out after Mohammad Jaheed, 20, of Patna city who was suffering from dengue was brought to the hospital on Thursday in a critical condition. However, the doctors declared him having “brought dead” which enraged the victim’s attendants.

In a fit of rage, the angry attendants assaulted the doctors on duty and scuffled with all those who came in their way. Some attendants of the other victims admitted to the hospital also joined the angry mob, prompting the juniors to go on strike. Although the police in a swift action later arrested two persons and registered a case against 40 others, the striking doctors are yet to relent.

The lightning strikes by junior doctors are quite common at this hospital. According to reports, the junior doctors have gone on strike for the fifth times in the past two years.