BENGALURU: The suicide of the taluk doctor at Nanjangud is only the tip of the iceberg. Stress and exhaustion have affected government healthcare workers physically and mentally. They say they have been overworked for the past six months, in several cases without a day’s leave.
A 55-year-old woman doctor on Covid duty at a government hospital in Bengaluru said, “We haven’t had a single day off since March. I feel tired and suffer migraines often. We are ready to work but if there were more staff, we could have taken a weekly off. Doctors work extra shifts to help colleagues take off for religious festivals.
Nurses don’t even have this option and need to report each day.” Medicos feel the administration, comprising IAS and KAS officers, is not listening to the woes of the medical community. Each PHC (Primary Health Centre) has targets to meet in terms of Covid tests done per day. However, there are several practical factors that higher-ups don’t account for.
“We have to wear and remove PPE kits, enter the patient’s mobile number to generate an OTP through which the SRF ID gets assigned for the swab taken.We have to take down details of patient’s name, risk status, if they are from containment zones and other details, all this takes time,” said a PHC doctor from Bengaluru, on condition of anonymity.
Doctors have to visit containment zones, test pregnant, symptomatic and other high-risk contacts, quarantine people, send positive patients into home isolation, Covid Care Centres (CCC) or hospitals. Non-Covid patients frequent PHCs for services such as urine tests and blood tests as well, which have to be attended to.
“We get calls even at midnight to shift patients by ambulance in case of emergency, and sudden deaths too. We need rest so we can maintain our own health,” the doctor added. The rule that doctors have to be quarantined for 5 days after 10 days of Covid duty, is not followed due to excess workload.
“I haven’t got a day’s holiday since March. I tested positive, after which my pregnant wife was also infected. We are not corona warriors but are human beings. When we reach targets, we are not appreciated and if we don’t meet them, we are reprimanded,” said Dr Vinay Manjunath who works at a PHC in Chikkaballapur, while also a CCC. Bagalkot DHO Dr Ananth Desai said health staff are under severe pressure due to testing targets. “We can perform better if the government doesn’t pressure us with targets,” Dr Desai said.
(If you are having suicidal thoughts, or are worried about a friend or need emotional support, someone is always there to listen. Call AASRA's 24x7 Helpline: +91-9820466726 for assistance.)