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Times of India
06 April 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
Mumbai, India

Patients Suffer as Doctors Go on Casual Leave En Masse
S Ahmed (55) dropped dead outside Marine Lines station due to a massive cardiac arrest. Ahmed’s aggrieved relatives had to go through a harrowing time before they could complete his post mortem formalities as doctors at G T Hospital were on mass casual leave. The situation was no better at other government hospitals on Monday. At St George Hospital, grief–stricken relatives of Dattu Bhalerao (46) had to wait for over nine hours to claim his body.

On Monday, 450 doctors from various state–run teaching colleges and hospitals struck work all over Maharashtra as a mark of protest against the government’s decision to abolish their posts from teaching medical colleges and shift them to rural and district hospitals.

The Directorate of Health Services, which recently announced this decision, wants to fill up 2,700 vacancies in rural areas by mobilising doctors from urban hospitals–cumteaching colleges, including JJ group of hospitals.

In Mumbai, 53 doctors–24 from JJ, 16 from St George, six from Cama and seven from GT, including medical superintendents, casualty medical officers and post–mortem doctors–are on casual leave for two days.

“If the government stands by its decision, all 10,000 doctors, including civil surgeons and district health officers, will go on an indefinite strike,” said Dr Ulhas Vasave from the Maharashtra Association of Gazetted Medical Officers (MAGMO).

However, minister for public health Suresh Shetty is in no mood to relent. “If doctors want to strike work, let them go ahead. They have to comply with the decision,” he said.

At Cama Hospital, consultant doctors were running the show. “We are managing emergencies as well as administrative work. Some of us will be working for 36 hours at a stretch,” said one doctor.

Dean of JJ Hospital, Dr TP Lahane, said that all necessary arrangements were in place. Lecturers are working as casualty medical officers in all the four hospitals. “Post mortems are being conducted by JJ Hospital’s forensic medicine department,” he said.

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