Endless wait for outpatients as doctors' strike goes on

His leg was swollen and bandaged, and he limped. But sitting idle wasn't an option. He plodded from one building to another, desperately trying to see a doctor. But there was none. 

He spent almost six excruciating hours at the government-run Victoria Hospital for medical care that never came. 

Meet Mahadeva, who came all the way from Malavalli, about 100 km southwest of Bengaluru. He was initially operated upon at a hospital in Mandya. "I do not understand medical terms. Doctors said there was a problem and did a minor surgery. But the pain didn't subside, and I was referred to Victoria Hospital." 

But he is new to Bengaluru. "I have been waiting since 9.30 am to get medicines. Nobody is giving the right response. I am being sent from one building to another," he said, as he tried to move his bandaged leg. 

Hundreds of patients, who walked into hospitals under the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) on Monday, faced a similar ordeal. Resident doctors and postgraduate medical students have been on strike since Saturday in protest against the alleged assault on one of their peers by the activists of a pro-Kannada group on November 1. 

The protest meant only senior doctors had to run the show. The shortage of manpower hit OPD patients hard. They had to run from pillar to post even for a simple consultation. 

Victoria Hospital, the largest government hospital in Bengaluru, has 11 departments. With OPD services hit, doctors tried to attend to emergency cases. "As resident doctors are protesting, the OPD is crippled. The waiting period will go up. Some elective surgeries are also being postponed because surgeons have no assistants," an administrative officer said. 

At the Vani Vilas Women and Children Hospital and the Trauma Centre, too, non-emergency patients had to wait for hours while some of them were asked to go back if they had only routine check-ups. 

Shankari, a domestic help from Doddanekkundi, said she came to the Victoria Hospital at 10 am and was yet to see a doctor even after five hours. "I have been made to go from one hospital to another. There is a long queue to meet the doctor," she added. 

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