Private hospitals back down from supporting strike

Private hospitals back down from supporting strike

Several private hospitals in the city defied the nationwide call to join the protests by medicos on Monday, prompting consternation within the Indian Medical Association.

At St John’s Hospital, as the Out-Patient Ward brimmed with people and medical services appeared uninterrupted, some medical staff appeared hesitant to answer when asked if the hospital was open.

“Let me just say that the hospital is not closed,” said Chief of Medical Services, Dr Sanjiv Lewin.

He added that while the hospital administration was disquieted by the attack on an intern doctor in Kolkata, as doctors they were responsible to society and to patients. “Under these circumstances, it is a challenge to accept a strike which would affect patients and those that need care,” Dr Lewin said.

According to Dr Lewin and other staff, at 11 am, doctors from five departments requested to know the hospital’s plan. When the administration responded that the the hospital’s primary duty was to patients, several doctors walked out for the day.

In the south, Narayana Hrudayalaya also stayed open, although senior staff did not respond to a request for clarification.

Dr Annadani M Meti, president of the Karnataka branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), said he was puzzled by the actions of those who had chosen not to participate in the protest.

“If these hospitals and doctors don’t have the concern to support their own colleagues in the medical field, how can they serve the public?” he asked.

Dr Sudarshan Ballal, chairman of Manipal Hospitals which shut down its outpatient services for the day, said he was appalled by incidents of violence against doctors.

“Having been a doctor and teacher in medicine for decades I have seen the blood, sweat and tears of these young boys and girls who work over a hundred hours a week and on holidays. It takes a good 10 to 12 years of gruelling hard work after school to become a specialist. This (violence) certainly is no way to repay their services,” he said.

Dr H Veerabhadrappa, president of the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC), expressed the hope that the protests would compel the government to introduce more stringent protections, including stationing protection forces at hospitals.

“Doctors should have an environment to work fearlessly, only then can the medical profession improve the quality of care,” he said, adding that doctors working in an environment of fear cannot provide the quality healthcare.

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