Patients discharged early from civic hospitals as doctors ‘mass bunk’
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Nearly 70 per cent of the patients admitted to public hospitals in the city were discharged earlier than scheduled Monday evening to cope with a "mass bunk" by nearly 1,700 doctors belonging to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).
The city's main municipal hospitals — KEM, Nair, and Sion hospital — carry out 400 to 500 surgeries on an average daily. However, on Tuesday, a quarter of these were performed on emergency basis.
Showcause notices have been issued to the association of more than 3000 doctors across the state who have gone on an indefinite strike, demanding salary hike, increased protection and accommodation.
"We came up with this strategy Monday itself in case the strike were to happen. We have postponed a number of surgeries to make way for emergency operations. We examined the patients to see how many could be discharged early. Additional staff, such as senior doctors, medical college professors, associate professors and assistant professors, has also been roped in," said Dr S J Nagada, dean of the Nair Dental college.
"Doctors are working overtime in shifts. It has been 12 hours since this strike came into effect. Since Wednesday is a holiday, fewer surgeries are scheduled, but the situation will become critical if the strike is not called off soon," she added.
According to figures from the civic administration, 635 doctors from KEM hospital, 468 from Sion hospital and 269 from Nair hospital did not show up for work Tuesday. Resident doctors at JJ hospital did not participate in the protest. "Thirty surgeries were performed at KEM, 15 at Nair and a similar number at Sion hospital," said Nagada.
MARD members are demanding a Rs-10,000 hike in their current salary of Rs 31,000 per month. The state government had approved a Rs 5,000 increment. After negotiations ended in a deadlock late Monday evening, doctors called for a "mass bunk". Terming the agitation a 'strike' will invite punitive measures under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).