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Strike called by Junior Doctors and nurses of Jharkhand hospitals turned into an “indefinite” one

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Aug. 19, 2010: Day Two of the strike called by junior doctors and nurses of state-run hospitals turned into an "indefinite" one, with protesters holding fast to their demands at the expense of the public health system.

Jharkhand unit president of Trained Nurses Association of India Kishori Rani said that they would launch an indefinite strike from tomorrow in a bid to fulfill their six-point charter of demands, which included a pay revision based on Sixth Pay Commission recommendations and regularised services of contractual nurses, among others.

Junior doctors, meanwhile, said that they would also be on indefinite strike from tomorrow till their demand to enact a medical protection law on the pattern of the one adopted by Maharashtra was met. "Our demand is necessary to prevent violence against healthcare personnel and damage to property of healthcare institutions," said Junior Doctors' Association spokesperson Kudan Kumar.

Meanwhile, the strike paralysed state-run hospitals at both the capital and steel city, with patients from the weaker sections and their attendants bearing the brunt.

Irate attendants, led by one Vishwanath Singh, under the aegis of the newly constituted Social Action for Patients' Rights, shouted slogans outside RIMS emergency unit such as "marizon ki lashon par raajneeti bandh karo" (stop politicking over patients' corpses) and "garib patient ki majboori ka fayda uthana bandh karo" (stop taking advantage of poor patients). They also allegedly tried to manhandle nurses, but failed after intervention of RIMS director A.K. Mahto and superintendent Manoj Kumar Rai. While nurses alleged that those trying to manhandle them were goons hired by one Bablu Khan, eyewitnesses said crowd ire escalated spontaneously in sympathy with the suffering patients.

"I brought my wife here six days ago after she touched a live 11KV wire. When I ask nurses to help her, they scold me," Bhola Takur (60) of Saharjam village in Chatra said. Even patients sent by jail administration were ignored. Three constables were struggling to get two Birsa Munda Central Jail prisoners admitted in the hospital.

The deadlock has caused the number of patients to dwindle drastically. "At least 75 patients left the hospital," said a RIMS medical staff.

Mahto said efforts were on to ease the situation. "We requested adviser to governor R.R. Prasad to arrive at a solution," he said, but admitted to the present impasse.

In a mirror image of sorts, the 80-odd striking nurses at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College and Hospital paralysed medical services at the state-run hospital for the second consecutive day today.

Not only did operation theatres remain non-functional, agitating nurses forced clerical staff at the out patients department in the morning to stop work in support of their strike, forcing registration of new patients till hospital superintendent S.S. Prasad intervened. Doctors also did not attend to routine surgical cases. "In the absence of nurses, doctors only attended to emergency cases," said R.Y. Chowdhury, anaesthetist and the former hospital superintendent.

Prasad said that while paramedics, trainee nurses and junior doctors were attending to patients, most paramedics and trainee nurses could not administer injections.

One of the striking nurses, Sandhya Nag, said talks were on between the health secretary and a delegation of striking nurses at Ranchi. "We will continue the strike if our demands are not met," she said source:telegraphindia.com

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