MUMBAI — Medical services in 17 government hospitals in Maharashtra were severely impacted March 20 after over 4,000 resident doctors went on a mass casual leave to protest the growing number of attacks by patients' relatives.
In the absence of concrete measures by the government to provide security, the resident doctors are likely to go on mass leave for a second day on March 21, the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors said.
There have been at least five attacks on resident doctors in one week, including two in the past 24 hours, said Indian Medical Association (Youth) state president Sagar Mundada.
"We met Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar but we have not got any concrete assurances on our physical safety while on duty," Mundada said, hinting that the protest would continue March 21.
Late in the evening, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation announced a series of tough measures to curb violence against doctors, including limiting the number of relatives who will be permitted to accompany patients.
Moving forward, the government will issue special visiting passes for only two relatives per patient. Visitors caught without passes will be prosecuted, said Additional Municipal Commissioner I.A. Kundan.
Acknowledging that it was the duty of the civic body to ensure security, Mahadeshwar urged doctors to resume duty by evening, failing which the civic body would consider taking action against them.
In this context, the BMC will ask for additional armed forces from the Maharashtra State Security Force which will be deployed to the hospitals.
Further, entry points at every hospital will be designated for different types of patients.
MARD President Yashowardhan Kabra said the sudden spate of attacks had left them shaken and that "it was difficult to work under such life-threatening conditions."
"There have been attacks on medicos in Mumbai Sion and Wadia hospitals after which our members decided to go on individual action of availing causal leave," Kabra told IANS.
Simultaneously, the MARD is filing an affidavit in the Mumbai High Court to highlight how its orders on doctors' security and related aspects have allegedly not yet been implemented by the state government.
"In fact, last Friday we had planned a day's mass bunking which we cancelled after assurances from the government,” Kabra said.
"But that same night medicos were attacked in Sion Hospital followed by another attack yesterday," he added.
In Mumbai, the government hospitals that were hit by the leave included KEM, Sion LTMG, Nair and Sir JJ Group, where a large number of resident doctors work.
Their counterparts in Kolhapur Government Hospital continued to work but wore black bands in support of the casual leave.
Several thousand patients were deprived of medical care, though senior doctors and others did handle serious or emergency cases.