Activists working in the health sector say that the increasing instances of attacks on doctors have more to do with systemic failure over a period of time rather than any recent stray incident.

Dr. Sagar Mundada, chairman of the State youth wing of the Indian Medical Association, said the system that makes resident doctors, who are essentially post-graduate students, do bulk of the tasks in government hospitals is faulty. “Ideally, senior doctors who are permanent employees should be handling major tasks in government hospitals. How can students be made to handle so many responsibilities that if they strike, the entire health system collapses? The government has put the doctors and patients at loggerheads.”

Dr. Mundada, who was earlier with the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), added that nurses and para-medical staff should be trained and empowered to handle emergencies and not just be restricted to do paperwork. “Shortage of Grade IV employees in hospitals also means that relatives of patients end up doing tasks like pushing trolleys. Shortage of basic medicines in hospitals, even of those on the National List of Essential Medication, forces doctors to ask patients to buy medicines from outside, which only makes doctors suspicious in the eyes of the patients. Also, lack of working equipment in hospitals forces doctors to direct patients elsewhere, which also adds to the suspicion of doctors being hand-in-glove with laboratories, when actually the doctor is helpless,” he said.

Ranjana Athawale, secretary of the BMC Nursing and Para Medical Staff Union, said, “Many a times, medicines that are nearing expiry dates are dumped on hospitals. Also, leaders come and inaugurate services like dialysis machines and CT scan machines with much fanfare and then fail to sanction essential chemicals or even personnel to run the show. This results in public anger, as people feel that we are not providing them services. Moreover, many posts of doctors are left vacant, which burdens the junior doctors.”

Shreya Nimhankar, joint secretary of the Citizens Doctor Forum, felt that large hospitals like K.E.M., Sion and J.J. were over-burdened to provide healthcare to the entire population of Mumbai and its suburbs due to lack of development of healthcare facilities in areas like Palghar or Alibaug.

Jitendra Tandel, also from the Forum, who had been on dialysis for more than 12 years, however, felt that 90% of doctors and nursing staff failed to show concern or respect to patients. “Anger rises up against hospital staff since relatives end up doing all their work. Which is why many relatives are forced to spend time in hospitals with patients.” Health activist Dr. Abhya Shukla urged people not to attack doctors, but to “blame and correct the system”.

Courtesy: The Hindu

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Link – http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/doctors-join-hands-demanding-safe-work-environment/article17637668.ece

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