KOCHI: As the government doctors' strike moved into the fourth day, patients in the government hospitals were left listless. Long queues were seen outside the general out-patient (OP) unit at the Ernakulam General Hospital.
That people are fairly used to these kinds of situations is evident from their responses. Fort Kochi native Julie said, “The delays are a usual thing. We met the doctor we came to meet. It took time, but we did. To an extend, people have got used to the delay in availing services. However, I am worried when it comes to emergency cases.”
With all the senior specialists going on strike, the hospitals are in a chaotic state. From patient management to emergency cases, the other staff members of the hospital are having a hard time catching up with all the work. However, doctors assure they will be attending to emergency cases.
"The doctors are attending to all emergency cases," said Ernakulam General Hospital Superintendent Dr A Anita.
"The casualty section is fully manned at all times. The doctors are even attending IP cases at times. The functioning of the general OP helps handle the patient inflow."
Dr Paul, cardiologist, said: "We can't be expected to stay in the OP all the time. The strike will go on indefinitely till we get a real solution."
The protests began on Friday with the government deciding to extend the duty hours of the out-patient (OP) facility in Family Health Centres (FHC) without ensuring adequate staff. The changed timings were made as part of the state government's Aardram health initiative. But the move elicited huge protests from the doctors who deemed it useless without enough staff.
"The government is trying to backtrack from the initial agenda of the Aardram programme," said Dr Haneesh, general physician, Ernakulam General Hospital.
"The Aardram project is a comprehensive healthcare programme. We support the idea. But the government is trying to dilute the programme by extending the OP hours without providing adequate staff. The ideal time for a check-up is 15 minutes per patient. But they hardly get one or two minutes. We never said we won't do our duty. We are just pointing out the lack of quality. When we asked for more staff, the government merely rearranged the morning session doctors to the evening session. The system is handicapped," said Dr Haneesh.