The government doctors’ strike in Tamil Nadu has entered its 16th day on May 5, and according to various reports, patients at government hospitals are suffering because of this strike. The doctors associations of the state are protesting against Madras high court’s decision to quash the ‘in-service’ marks and the 50 percent reservation of post graduation seats for government doctors. In Tamil Nadu, during PG admissions incentive marks are given for in-service doctors serving in hilly and remote areas of the state which is as per Medical Council of India prescription. However, the court overruled this method. 

On May 4, a 52-year-old patient reportedly died of heart failure in a Tiruvallur Government Hospital and the family of the deceased alleged that the death is the result of the doctors’ strike. The patient was admitted to the hospital at around 9 am with a complaint of breathlessness, and he passed away at 1:10 pm, the Times of India reported. 

Meanwhile, the hospital authorities denied the claims of the family members and claimed that the strike has led to the suspension of outpatient services but the hospital staff is attending emergency cases and inpatients. 

Another report disclosed that hospital authorities had to hold up about 1000 pre-scheduled surgeries and also outpatient services were interrupted and delayed due to a shortage of staff. The president of Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association (TNGDA) that has 15,500 members stated that numbers of such hold-up surgeries would continue to grow until the government does not hold talks with them and take any action, TOI quoted his as saying.

The pre-scheduled or elective surgeries are mostly performed during the summer season, and most of these cases are paediatric. The daily quoted an Institute of Child Health doctor as saying that at least ten such surgeries a day and the hospital authorities have asked the patients to return after a week for their surgeries.

The patients are allowed to consult government physicians for emergency and some elective procedures including caesarian deliveries. However, most of the surgeries have been put on hold on the ground that they can be temporarily treated with medication. The state government has also requested the protesting doctors not to let their agitation affect the functioning of the hospitals. 

Patients travelling from one district to another for medical help and those who come to Tamil Nadu from other states have been worst impacted by the strike. The protest has led to delay of treatment as well as overall ambiguity for patients.