Tuesday, September 28, 2010

kolkata doctors' strike ends

another strike comes to an end.yet another strike,which will achieve nothing.the strike before this one,the one that happened in our college/hospital last month, was no different.the promises made were similar,the threats familiar and the results predictable,to say the least.

it has evolved into a set pattern of sorts;patients and their relatives come to the ER for treatment which falls short of even their modest expectations despite best efforts from the interns on duty;this in turn is invariably followed by the 'patient party' becoming aggressive and resentful towards the doctors;a careless remark from some fresh intern or an accusing comment from some casual bystander hinting at negligence on the part of the doctors is all that is needed to bring out the ugly side of a mob gone wild.

the docs are roughed up;broken furniture and smashed medical equipment(if the broken sucker machine and the wheel-less trolleys can be classified as medical equipment )quickly fill up the space where a few minutes before had stood other anxious 'patient parties'.for them,it's time to find another hospital;preferably one that is not being ruled by unruly mobs.

this time though,some doctors decided that they had had enough. a hasty phone call and reinforcements arrived quickly from the men's hostel nearby and thus began the bizarre phenomenon of doctors exchanging punches with the local goons.more bruises,more bruised egos and destruction of the already broken equipment.a media van that had arrived after receiving reports of a scuffle quickly organised itself to bolster up their TRPs.a misdirected bout of anger on the part of some doctor not in awe of the media's might caused the channel's costly equipment to take a hit.this in turn caused the cameras to be directed exclusively on the warring docs.sheer bad luck!

fight over,the docs went to their hostel feeling righteous indignation and a feeling not unlike self pride at having done what they just did.the feeling did not last long.a small platoon of feisty cops with sturdy lathis appeared quickly in the hostel and went after anyone they could lay their hands on.after a while,they were satisfied with arresting five of the doctors;one intern and four post graduate trainees.docs beaten up like common criminals and then arrested on a non-bailable offence!!

the news spread like wildfire.public sentiment in west bengal,and particularly kolkata,had never been in the favour of docs;the media made a hefty packet out of it by airing the biased videos over and over again.

junior doctors at SSKM college and hospital went on an indefinite strike.they were quickly joined by National medical college and hospital,Calcutta medical college and hospital and R G Kar medical college and hospital.

four out of five government hospitals on strike;that's more than 2000 doctors;patient services crippled and what a furore.understandable.lives were at stake.more importantly,elections were drawing near.these sort of incidences have a bad impact on voters.stern measures were called for;the chief minister issued an ultimatum to the erring docs-return to work by the next day,or face the consequences.deadline:12 noon the next day.

the next day dawned.12 noon came and went.the media was waiting for something to happen.everyone knew the government was incapable of doing anything substantial to punish the docs.it didn't dare.not that it couldn't.public opinion was biased against the docs.the public would have welcomed some punishment,some drama.but the politicians knew better.

a few cancellations of registrations could let the matter spiral out of control.the govt was stalling.a rally/protest march began from calcutta medical college and hospital.over a thousand medicos joined the march.at the end of the rally,talks were resumed between the representatives of the docs and the representatives of the govt.something was agreed upon.the basic plea/demand of the docs:security on duty,was supposedly addressed.assurances made(yet again);the deadlock broke.

the docs returned to their duty to find some lathi wielding constables at the ER.the last time a strike happened,these constables had been on duty for 5 days.since this time the strike was a bit bigger,it would be safe to assume that they would stay for at least a week.

a few saline stands have been borrowed from the hospital store room.they make up for the lack of proper medical equipment(sic!).a duty roster for the support staff has been put up.the last time,the stands vanished within 72 hrs and the roster was torn by the end of the week.

the question arises:how can docs provide medical services when
>there is not enough proper working equipment
>a dangerous doctor patient ratio
>an alarming absence of support staff(the backbone of the ER and medical wards of any hospital;don't be surprised,the docs are not the backbone,trust me on that one)
>there is a very real danger of being beaten to death every time a patient succumbs to his disease or injuries due to lack of proper infrastructure/lack of medical care/bad luck or all of the above
>the government is perfectly aware of all of this and still presents a beatific smile claiming "aalll izz welll"

what needs to be done??

>join politics and make some badly needed changes in how things work-that in my opinion is THE most effective way to go about it.
>read and think about the previous sentence again.it's not impossible.

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