Patient care was affected at several major hospitals in Delhi on Wednesday as resident doctors protesting over the delay in NEET PG counselling intensified their agitation even as members of more RDAs joined the stir in the national capital. Resident doctors association of the Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH) on Wednesday morning issued a statement that its members were "withdrawing services" to protest the alleged police action during a face-off between them and medics on Monday, and demanded expediting of the NEET PG counselling process.
Located in east Delhi, RGSSH, which comes under the Delhi government, is one of the key facilities for treatment of COVID-19 in the city. "Senior residents and junior residents have boycotted services from today. But we are trying to compensate with consultants so that patient care is not much affected," a senior official of the hospital said, adding, about 900-2000 patients visit its OPD daily.
Members of the RDAs at the Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya and Northern Railway Central Hospital, one of the busiest facilities in Delhi, also protested and boycotted services. Northern Railway spokesperson Deepak Kumar confirmed that the doctors at the NR Central Hospital have joined the protest. Visuals emerged on social media of doctors at the Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalaya and Northern Railway Central Hospital holding banners with messages like 'Black day for medical fraternity', 'Couselling karao, doctors bulao', and chanting slogans, 'We want justice'.
Citing guidelines issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) of not organising gatherings during the pandemic, the Delhi Police on Wednesday said they would initiate a legal action if doctors do not follow it.
A senior police officer said the protesting residents have been made aware about the yellow alert issued in the national capital on Tuesday in view of the prevailing coronavirus pandemic situation. Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases following the emergence of Omicron variant, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday had declared a yellow alert under which schools, colleges, cinemas and gyms have been closed, shops dealing in non-essential items are operating on on odd-even basis, and metro trains and buses running with 50 per cent of seating capacity in the city.
The police officer said, "We urged them (protesting doctors) to follow Covid protocols, maintain social distancing. We have told them that as per new DDMA guidelines such type of gatherings are not allowed, and we urged them to discontinue their protest".
"The entire nation looks up to doctors and if doctors themselves gather in large numbers, there is more threat of spreading COVID-19 and in that case, who will treat the patients. We are trying all measures to create awareness and convince the protesting doctors to call off their protests, amid rising cases of Covid and scare of Omicron," he added. When the protestors questioned police about rallies allegedly being held elsewhere amid the yellow alert, they responded that, "law is equal for all", and no such activity will be allowed as per DDMA guidelines which is being "followed strictly".
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday urged the Centre to expedite the NEET-PG Counselling to avoid medical staff crisis in hospitals as Covid surges. He said that doctors' representatives met Union Health Minister on Tuesday and is hopeful that they will call off the strike soon.
The stir by resident doctors in Delhi, who have been protesting over the delay in NEET-PG 2021 counselling entered into its 13th day on Wednesday. President of the Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA) Dr Manish said, "The strike was still on".
Due to the stir, patient care has been affected at three Centre-run facilities of Safdarjung, RML and Lady Hardinge hospitals and some of the Delhi government-run hospitals as well. On Tuesday, FORDA had decided to continue the stir as a meeting between their federation's delegation and the Union Health Minister failed to make any headway. The meeting between a delegation of FORDA and Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had taken place at Nirman Bhawan here, but the doctors' body had said, the "response was not satisfactory". Mandaviya had urged them to call off their strike in the larger public interest.
Resident doctors in Delhi on Wednesday morning gathered in the premises of Safdarjung Hospital, where police personnel were deployed to ensure maintenance of law and order. According to police, adequate police arrangements have been made at Safdarjung Hospital, where more than 1,00 protesting resident doctors have gathered raising their demands.