Health services continued to be affected in Bihar as the junior doctors' strike entered the eighth day on Wednesday.
Around 1,500 junior doctors of the state's prominent government medical colleges and hospitals went on a strike on December 23 over their demand to increase the monthly stipend.
Doctors of Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Science (IGIMS) have also been protesting for raising their stipends.
Unavailability of doctors at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (Bhagalpur), Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College (Gaya) and in two other facilities have paralysed the health and medical services in Bihar. The outpatient department (OPD), emergency and surgery departments are likely to be closed due to unavailability of physicians.
According to a PMCH official, 115 surgical operations have been cancelled in the last eight days and more are expected to be scrapped if the stir continues. As a result, patients admitted to the government-run hospitals in the state are vacating wards and many of their relatives were seen running from pillar to post to avail of treatment from other facilities.
Over 80 per cent beds of PMCH's Tata and Hathua wards have been lying vacant due to the dearth of doctors.
Radhey Shyam Sharma, a patient's kin from Vaishali said: "I have requested the doctors to discharge my uncle Ravi Sharma as no doctors have been attending the ward for the last 2 to 3 days. We will receive better treatment at home than PMCH."
Govind Kumar, a resident of Harnaut in Nalanda district, who had come to PMCH for his mother's treatment said, "My mother was having severe health issues due to lower oxygen level in her blood. As I had approached the PMCH's medical staff available in the emergency ward, they asked me to visit the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and from there I was sent to the control room. I have appealed to the doctors to treat my mother but nobody has paid any heed to my plight. Besides, I have been denied a stretcher or wheelchair to shift my mother from one department to another."
Sources said that only 200 senior doctors are at PMCH at present, while at least 600 junior physicians are on strike.
Alok Kumar, a doctor at PMCH emergency said: "The medical services have been severely affected but we are providing treatment to every patient. We have not refused any kind of treatment to a patient."
Since the strike has crippled health operations in Bihar's six medical colleges and hospitals, a delegation of junior doctors met Health Minister Mangal Pandey.
Manoranjan Kumar, a junior doctor at PMCH said: "The delegation has sought the Health Minister's assurance which he refused to give. The Minister said the state government has no money to increase the stipends."
"We understand the plight of patients. Hence, we also want to end the strike but it will happen only if our demand will be met," said Kundan Kumar, another junior doctor.
He added that the state government is applying pressure on them to call off the strike.
The junior doctors are demanding that the monthly stipend for PG courses be increased to Rs 80,000, Rs 85,000 and Rs 90,000 in the first, second and third year respectively. At present, they get Rs 50,000, Rs 55,000 and Rs 60,000, respectively.