Mumbai: OPD services at public hospitals hit as MARD strike begins

Outpatient Departments (OPDs) at all civic-run hospitals were crippled on Monday after as many as 3,500 resident doctors in Mumbai went on strike, forcing patients to wait for hours or return without getting treatment.

Swapnil MishraUpdated: Tuesday, January 03, 2023, 09:01 PM IST
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Mumbai: Outpatient Departments (OPDs) at all civic-run hospitals were crippled on Monday after as many as 3,500 resident doctors in Mumbai went on strike, forcing patients to wait for hours or return without getting treatment.

The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) had decided to stop all services, with the exception of emergency services, at all public hospitals demanding hostel facilities and payment of Covid-19 pandemic arrears that have been pending for over a year (see box).

Thousands of elective surgeries are likely to be postponed across the state.

Sangeeta Joshi, who visited the OPD at Sion’s LTMG Hospital, was told she would have to wait for at least two hours to get her daughter checked by a paediatrician. “She had viral fever and I came early in the morning,” Ms Joshi said, “but I learnt there was a strike and doctors were not available. I waited more than an hour but left without getting her checked.”

Another patient who visited the KEM Hospital at Parel to get his dressing changed was attended to by a ward boy after waiting almost three hours.

Hospital administrators, however, claimed to have made adequate arrangements to deal with the situation. “All senior doctors gave their services at the OPD,” said Dr Neelam Andrade, Medical Director of all civic-run hospitals in the city. “Throughout the day, OPDs at all major hospitals were at just over 60% of the daily average. Apart from this, necessary surgeries were done in all hospitals.”

A senior official from the BMC’s Health Department claimed the influence of the strike was minor. “As per our data, 8,520 patients were treated in OPDs, and 104 minor and major surgeries were performed,” the official said.

MARD has sought implementation of a Government Resolution on dearness allowance at BMC hospitals along with clearance of arrears of dearness allowance from July 1, 2018.

“The payment of eight months of Covid arrears of resident doctors of Nair Hospital and two months’ arrears of resident doctors of KEM and Cooper hospitals are pending,” one resident doctor said. “The amount runs into crores.”

Dr Akshay Yadav, MARD member, said, “Nair Hospital was a dedicated Covid hospital, yet compensation is pending. Residents are demanding better hostel facilities, but these demands are not being met. Strike is the last resort. Even we hope patients don’t suffer.”

DOCTORS WANT

1. Increase in number of bonded Senior Resident posts and equal pay for all SRs

2. Implementation of DA in stipend and payment of arrears pending since 2018

3. Pending Covid-19 arrears for Nair residents

4. Better hostel facilities and accommodation for all SRs and SMOs.

5. Reduction of bond period of Maharashtra super speciality resident doctors from 2 years to 1 year

6. Filling of vacancies of associate and assistant professors

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