Gandhi doctors reject Etala’s call to end strike

Hyderabad: The Covid-19 crisis in Telangana has taken an unexpected and serious turn with as many as 300 doctors and 150 house surgeons at Gandhi Hospital, the nodal centre and the primary Covid-19 care facility in Telangana, striking work following Tuesday’s attack on some of their colleagues by relatives of a deceased patient.

The doctors, who sat on a dharna all day long on Wednesday on the main road outside Gandhi Hospital, refused to call off their strike, demanding strict action against the attackers, and an immediate change in the government policy of pooling all Covid-19 patients at the hospital. The patients at Gandhi Hospital are now at risk as there are only 350 senior doctors and heads of department who have to provide care to them.

Efforts to mediate by Health Minister Etala Rajendar late on Wednesday evening, and his call to the doctors to return to work, failed, raising prospects of patient services being affected in the hospital with 450 doctors declaring that they have no intention of giving up on the strike. Mr Rajendar had called on the doctors to meet him in his office earlier, but the doctors refused to do so, forcing him to visit the hospital and hold talks with them.

In an hour-long meeting with junior doctors in the auditorium of Gandhi Hospital, the health minister listened to all the problems and demands and promised to take the issues discussed to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.

The unified response from the doctors was: “You take us to KCR, we will explain the situation in Gandhi Hospital to him.”

The striking doctors were very unhappy that despite explaining in detail their problems of being overworked, overburdened and also not having sufficient staff to share the work load, the health minister was unable to take a call.

Dr Lohith Reddy, president of Telangana Junior Doctors Association at Gandhi Hospital explained: “We have worked from March onwards with full dedication and supported all the steps of the government. We cannot continue anymore and there is a need to decentralise the treatment of Covid-19 patients.”

“The state government is not being given the right picture of what is actually happening at Gandhi Hospital. We need our representative to be there to tell the government our problems,” he said, referring to the demand of seeking direct talks with the Chief Minister.

Angry doctors spent the night protesting and they also marched in the morning outside Gandhi Hospital on the main road and sat on dharna to let the people of the state know their problems. “We were forced to do this as the administration is not conveying our problems to the state government,” said a junior doctor.

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