LAHORE: The healthcare situation grew precarious at government hospitals of Punjab, particularly at teaching institutions of Lahore, after young doctors turned apathetic towards patients and their attendants during the strike at OPDs against enforcement of Medical Teaching Institutions Act on the third consecutive day on Saturday.
The medical officers under the banner of Young Doctors Association Punjab continued with their strike at the out patient department of the government hospitals.
They also staged sit-ins outside the OPDs where they asked the government to withdraw the MTI Act.
Senior doctors found aloof, fearing backlash from protesting medics
The poor people, who had come from far-flung areas to the hospitals, suffered a lot when the agitating doctors refused to attend them at the health facilities.
The situation was disturbing at Mayo, Sir Ganga Ram, Services, Jinnah and Lahore General hospitals.
The sad part of the development was that the teaching faculty remained either absent or aloof, leaving the patients at the mercy of the protesting medics.
Sources said before observing strike, the young doctors, led by their leaders of the respective hospitals, took a round of the OPDs, locked them forcibly and forced the patients and their attendants to leave the facilities.
On resistance by some ‘neutral’ doctors, the YDA leaders hurled threats at them and also misbehaved with many of them for insisting on providing treatment to patients.
The situation was said to be pathetic at the Mayo Hospital where a group of YDA allegedly thrashed the attendants for demanding treatment to an elderly woman and a man who were brought on private vehicles as they were unable to walk.
It merits mentioning that the Mayo’s OPD attends approximately 4,000 to 5,000 patients daily.
The senior teaching faculty restricted themselves to their offices in wards or left the health facility, the sources said adding that the management of the King Edward Medical University distanced itself from the problems of the patients.
The Jinnah Hospital also witnessed such incidents when some YDA members allegedly abused the attendants and patients for insisting on treatment at the OPD.The Services Hospital was the worst hit as the young medics were found aggressive.
The sources said the YDA leaders on Friday night disseminated a message for the teaching faculty at Services and their colleagues that if any of them dared to run OPD or attend patients, he/she would be responsible for ‘dire consequences.’
On Saturday morning, the YDA leaders took a round of OPD, locked all doors, blocked the ways leading to the facility for patients and their attendants and deputed their ‘charged’ activists to prevent anyone from visiting the facility.
The situation remained tense at the Services Hospital as the doctors allegedly thrashed many attendants and patients and forced them to leave the OPD.
The YDA leaders while talking to media at the Services Hospital denied allegations of rude behaviour with patients and their attendants saying that a majority of the visiting people voluntarily left the OPDs of health facilities to extend their support to protesting medics.
They said the YDA had already apprised public through media and by displaying notices at prominent places of the government hospitals that they would not attend any patient during strike at OPD.
On the other hand, vice chancellors, principals and the health authorities also remained largely silent on the deteriorating healthcare situation at teaching hospitals of Punjab.
Neither they made alternative arrangements nor visited the OPDs to provide security to those neutral medics who were under attack.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2019