Resident doctors across the country are protesting for the expediton of NEET-PG counselling 2021. In the process, their strike has entered day 2, and has caused long queues of patients outside government-run hospitals, including those in Delhi. Resident doctors have boycotted routine services for the second consecutive day on Tuesday as part of the nationwide protest. The worst-hit were daily outdoor patient department (OPD) services, even as senior doctors looked after arrangements and the ailing.
Resident doctors and medical associations have said the delay in NEET-PG admission in medical colleges has caused an acute shortage of manpower and expressed concern that this comes at a time when cases of the new Covid variant, Omicron, are being detected in the country.
Besides Delhi, residents doctors are on strike in major cities of Rajasthan such as Jaipur, Kota, Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Bikaner, and in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, and civil hospitals in Gujarat, among other states and cities. In the national capital, patient care at Centre-run Ram Manohar Lohia, Safdarjung, and Lady Hardinge hospitals remained hit due to the protest called by the Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA).
The AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) said its members will wear black ribbons at work in support of the cause of the overburdened resident doctors of the country and against the delay in NEET-PG counseling.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention to ensure that post-graduate admissions are done on a war footing.
Why are the doctors protesting?
The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for Postgraduate (NEET-PG) courses are conducted for fields like the Master of Surgery, and Doctor of Medicine. Delay in the NEET PG Counselling this year, is resulting in the shortage of staff, and the doctors fear it might hamper preparations of dealing with a potential third wave of Covid-19.
The resident doctors have been waiting patiently for some positive outcomes of the Supreme Court proceedings in the matter. However, there seems no respite, said Dr Sunil Duchania, president, Lady Hardinge Medical College RDA.
"As withdrawal from OPD and all routine services didn't bring any concrete response from the authorities, the resident doctors have withdrawn from all services (routine as well as emergency) from December 6 in support of the nationwide protest called by FORDA," Duchania said.
The Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum (PMSF), in a statement, said the delay in PG admissions have left them "overworked" and patients that they treat "underserved".
"Those PG students from current batches who survived their peers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic have not only suffered immense personal losses but have also lost nearly two years of post-graduate learning which a resident doctor is supposed to acquire during their two to three years of training," it said.
The AIIMS RDA said the delay in NEET-PG counseling is depriving Indian citizens of services of around 42,000 doctors who would have otherwise joined at least six months ago.
"Several hospitals are functioning with just two-thirds capacity of their total resident doctors' strength, compromising with the quality of patient care.
As cases of the new variant of coronavirus are increasing exponentially globally, it is prudent that our nation should be prepared for another wave of the pandemic," it said.
In a letter to Mandaviya on December 4, the FORDA had said healthcare institutions across the country are running short of an adequate workforce of resident doctors with no admission in the current academic year yet.
"With the possibility of a COVID-19 wave looming large, the situation will be disastrous for the healthcare sector with its bearing on the country's population," it had said.
(With PTI Inputs)