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Delhi Hospitals Cancel Holidays And Recalls Doctors

In response to the health ministry’s direction, on Monday the major hospitals in Delhi revoked the leave applications of the doctors and consultants, and the doctors who were away from duty were recalled. //

"The situation is really tough for hospitals like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as resident doctors are on an indefinite strike. To keep the momentum of our hospital, we have cancelled all the leave applications and recalled the doctors and consultants on leave," said a top administrator of the AIIMS.

"Junior doctors play a vital role in the normal functioning of the wards but the ongoing strike is certainly affecting the work. We are trying our best not to turn away patients and in past 24 hours, 310 patients have been treated in OPD (out patient department) and emergency wards," the official told IANS, requesting anonymity.

"We have decided that no doctors will be allowed to go on leave till resident doctors are on strike."

Confirming the AIIMS' declaration, health ministry officials said 200 doctors of several major hospitals were recalled to deal with the exigency.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA), meanwhile, was not amused by the government's announcement Monday that it will put in place a mechanism to ensure interests of all sections of society, including protesting students.

"We do not agree with the government's version. It's more of a political statement rather than a solution. The statement holds no meaning and we want everything in black and white," said Subhash Aggarwal, working committee member of IMA.

"They should debate the issue with us and give us a concrete solution. Till that time the protest will continue," he told IANS.

"On the one hand we are talking about medical tourism and on the other the government is hell bent to compromise with quality. In such a situation, the country's credibility is going to be affected in a major wa y," Aggarwal said.

He said the IMA working committee will discuss May 20 and 21 all issues related to protests, police brutality and the government's role so far.

"We are also planning to file a public interest litigation before the Supreme Court against police manhandling of women medical students, interns and doctors both in Delhi and Mumbai."

Meanwhile, 100 resident doctors from five medical colleges in the capital continued their hunger strike for the second day.

"We will not call off our hunger strike till Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh takes his decision back," said Arun Wadhhwan, a member of the resident doctors' association, University College of Medical Sciences (UCMS).

Medical services have been severely affected at the AIIMS, UCMS, Maulana Azad Medical College, Lady Hardinge Medical College, Safdarjang Hospital, Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Hospital and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in the national capital.

Responding to a call by the IMA for a token strike Monday, the OPD at private super speciality hospitals like Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital and Max Hospitals were also shut down.

Meanwhile, patients are facing the brunt of the strike.

"AIIMS is considered to be the best hospital in the country. I have been coming to the hospital for the past three days for my 12-year-old son's treatment, but to no avail," said Jasjit Ahuja, a resident of Karol Bagh in west Delhi.

"Every day, hospital guards and nurses are turning me away saying, 'Doctors are on strike'. If doctors take to the streets, can you imagine the condition of poor people like me? I cannot afford treatment in a private hospital and my son will continue to suffer. I have faith now only in god," Ahuja said.

"The emergency services have been affected badly in our hospital. Many patients have been turned away as there are not enough doctors to take care of patients," said an official of Safdarjung Hospital.

In Sir Ganga Ram hospital, all resident doctors and consultants were on a daylong strike.

"We expressed solidarity with our medical fraternity and support their protest against the proposed reservation. No resident doctors or consultant worked Monday in the hospital," said Bela Jain, a consultant doctor at the hospital.

Max hospitals authorities said that in response to IMA's call, the OPD services were closed Monday.

"We have rescheduled the appointment of our patients to avoid any inconvenience. But all patients in ICUs and those needing emergency services got proper treatment," said Mandeep Kaur, assistant manager, corporate communication of Max.

For the past two weeks, hundreds of students of five medical colleges in the capital have been protesting the government's move to reserve 27 percent of seats for other backward classes (OBCs) in 20 central universities, the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management and AIIMS - which will take the reservation quota to 49.5 percent.

The protests have spread across the country.

--Edited IANS
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