Stalking Death

For the last many weeks now, the doctors at Jammu and Kashmir are on strike and if the Friday press conference of a senior minister is any indication then the situation is going to deteriorate further. It is already a grim situation. Now patients have stopped visiting the hospitals because doctors are not available. The decline in number of patients is between seventy to eighty percent in the major hospitals in Srinagar including SKIMS and SMHS.
Since the basic level of doctors – junior residents, senior residents and assistant surgeons – are on strike, the entire load is being handled by the consultants. Usually not used to such type of work, they closed the out patient departments. Only emergency surgeries are being conducted. This has created a situation that the people have only two options, either to go to the privately run hospitals – mostly managed by the senior doctors or do nothing and die. In certain cases, some patients from the creamy layer have already flown out. The striking doctors have many genuine problems. When they say they are in a lesser pay band if compared to the junior assistants or cops, they are not totally wrong. The government insists that they have proportionately hiked their bands after the wages were revised under sixth pay commission recommendations. If doctors are seeking an established grading system of the available expertise, it is not bad.
But striking and holding the entire society to ransom is not the way out. They should have explored all the possible means of protest before resorting to total lockouts that is hitting hard the society from top to bottom. Though the agreement reached between the government and the striking doctors has been terminated and announcement has been made to take harsh steps, it is unlikely to help either the government or the society that it represents. The government should keep certain things under consideration while taking the next step on the issue.
The striking doctors form the two basic stages of the system, a stage where diagnosis takes place. They are the backbone of the health system on whose findings the consultants deliver decrees. By managing the maximum influx of the patients they actually run the show. Their grievances need to be looked into but it has to be made conditional to certain things that society demands that, among other things, should include a ban on private practice and making posting in peripheries compulsory.


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