Srinagar : Patients visiting the Out Patient Department (OPD) of the JVC hospital—an affiliate of Sher-i- Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS)— continue to remain at the mercy of junior doctors as the authorities have failed to ensure round-the-clock availability of senior consultants.
The irony is that government could not ensure the availability of senior consultants in spite of giving them incentives.
Some 100 patients were waiting outside the OPD block and each one was desperate for his or her turn to meet a doctor when a reporter visited the facility.
“The OPD opened an hour later, the patients and their family ran towards the OPD, where guards reorganized them into queues, the reporter observed.
One of the Patients, Zona, wife of Habib-Ullah, with the acute chest infection waited for three hours to meet the HOD chest disease for consultation only to be turned back as the concerned doctor was not available.
“I suggest you that it is better to meet him at his private clinic at Nundresh colony Bemina Srinagar,” one of the junior doctors of the hospital suggests this patient.
The reporter was also asked to meet this doctor at his private clinic.
According to the hospital authorities, scores of patients suffering from various chest diseases reach this hospital’s OPD daily but in the absence of similar senior doctor, most of them prefer not to consult the junior doctors and return home. “I can tell you that the concerned OPD is always on the mercy of junior doctors,” one of the official of the hospital admitted.
However, when contacted Principal SKIMS Medical College Bemina Srinagar, Dr Riyaz Auntoo, he negated the allegations as ‘absolutely wrong’ and said seniors were always available in their OPDs. “The HOD chest disease had gone for leave. We cannot stop anybody to opt for leave, but yes our other senior doctors are always available in their OPD’s,” he said.
Meanwhile, the junior doctors of the other valley hospitals complained that in the past few months of violence, their families are in constant distress as the hospitals are burdened with patients, resulting in longer working hours for them.
Patients complain that OPD of LD Hospital, Bone and Joint Hospital, Children Hospital and Chest Diseases Hospital remain without senior doctors. “The senior doctors do not have time for the OPD’s, because they are busy at private hospitals and clinics. And the authorities of hospitals have also failed to make the senior doctors punctual in performing their duties,” patients alleged.
Insiders said the trend has become a serious problem as the hospital managements have no choice but to run the OPD units with junior doctors. “The OPD’s are overburdened with increasing number of patients in these days. But the problems of the critical patients multiply when they are unattended or given wrong treatment by relatively inexperienced doctors,” one of the health official said.
According to the health experts, the initial hours of serious patients are extremely critical and need extra medical care and expertise. But due to non-cooperation of the senior consultants most of the hospitals fail to properly handle these patients.
Sources said that a majority of junior doctors are working beyond their roster and dozens of them have stayed in hospitals for weeks together to treat the patients.
Senior doctors have been staying away, leading to depression and other stress-related health problems for the junior doctors, particularly female doctors, the junior doctors maintained.
Psychiatrists accepted that the work-family conflict was, in a large part, due to junior doctors having “too much to do in too little time”.
Sources said that, long working hours; high-stress environment has led to various psychiatry and adjustment problems among junior doctors.
Sources said that these doctors are said to be taking psychiatric treatments.
Confirming the fact that junior doctors are overworked and stressed, one of the senior health official said that most of these doctors are doing 18-hour shifts and even longer sometimes. “The pressure is too much to handle, as a result of which many residents have signs of sleep deprivation and depression,” he said, adding that during the times when work pressure mounts beyond one’s control, the residents come to each others’ rescue.—KNS
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