While most doctors were on duty in government hospitals and medical colleges in Pune, residents of the suburbs were inconvenienced as local doctors and private practitioners joined the strike called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Monday.
While resident doctors in the city affiliated to the Medical Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) did not participate in the strike, more than 1,000 of them wore black bands to work to condemn the violence on junior doctors in West Bengal.
Dr. Abhishek Jain of the Central MARD told The Hindu, “We have issued an ultimatum to the Central government, which includes, among other demands, the implementation of the Central Doctor Protection Act for all resident doctors. We have also demanded the tightening of security services in all the medical colleges across the State and control over the privatisation of medical education. If these demands are not fulfilled within a week, we will resume our strike on June 24.”
Junior doctors at the State-run Sassoon General Hospital said they supported the strike, but refrained from participating owing to the sheer number of patients seeking immediate attention. “There are over 1,000 patients here, so we cannot afford to participate in the strike as we would then be forced to work overtime after the demonstration was over,” Dr. Ajinkya Vede, an intern, said.
While authorities at Sassoon and the Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital in Pimpri-Chinchwad said the hospitals were functioning without incident, doctors struck work in prominent private hospitals like Ruby Hall Clinic.
In areas where private practitioners supported the strike, patients had to travel to bigger hospitals with functioning OPDs. “I had to go to Sassoon Hospital from Lohegaon since the practitioner in my area was on strike. While I understand that the West Bengal incident was appalling, why must innocent patients be made to suffer as a result?” Roshni Tayade, a homemaker, asked.
Others, who travelled from distant parts of the city, claimed they were inconvenienced by the one-pass security system at Sassoon, which has been set up to deter assaults on resident doctors. “I accompanied my father, who is suffering from severe pain in his leg, and was not allowed in as the security is rather stringent in light of the West Bengal incident,” said Sunita Bhingardevi.
Many patients felt the one-pass system was vital in the light of the West Bengal incident. “This system is extremely necessary for security, more so after the events that took place in West Bengal. It is comforting to know that proper security measures are in place,” said Rohit Dubey, a bank employee who came to visit a relative undergoing treatment.
The strike evoked a somewhat mixed response in western Maharashtra. While doctors in Satara district responded well to it, the response was rather lukewarm in Sangli, where major hospitals functioned normally.