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Friday, July 20, 2012

Termination notices served on 8 DM, M Ch students at SKIMS

Stand-off continues as patients unattended; attendants, employees out on demonstrations

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jul 19: Stand-off between resident doctors and non-gazetted employees entered a crucial phase on the sixth day of unrest today when administration of Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Soura, served termination notices on eight DM and M Ch students on their failure to end strike and report for duty. Even as the administration, led by Director SKIMS, Dr Shaukat Ali Zargar, was busy in a negotiations process with the agitating doctors till late tonight, doctors of the autonomous super-specialty hospital were mobilizing wider support from medical professionals in the state government’s Departments of Health and Medical Education.

Parallel to intermittent rounds of negotiations, Director SKIMS enforced his threat of ‘stringent action’ against the doctors on strike if they failed to act on today’s notice of resuming duty by 1300 hours. As they did not, termination notices were served on eight senior faculty students completing their post-doctoral courses, DM and M Ch, with SKIMS. Being continuously busy with the negotiations and invoking of strong-arm methods, Dr Shaukat Zargar was not accessible for media.

However, a senior doctor at Hospital Administration confirmed to Early Times that notices of cancellation of registration were slapped on eight DM and M Ch students at 1600 hours after they declined to resume duties. He asserted that Director was personally holding the negotiations with the agitating doctors and there was a stark possibility of breakthrough till late tonight.

Other informed sources said that the 500 doctors---DM, M Ch, MD, MS, Junior Residents and Senior Residents---began parallel efforts to seek solidarity of thousands of fellow doctors working with different, medical colleges, hospitals and health centres all over the state. Representatives of Doctors Association of Kashmir were in touch with the agitating SKIMS and SKIMS Medical College doctors till late this evening.

Both sides, according to sources, were weighing options and devising future course of action while awaiting the outcome of tonight’s negotiation process between the Resident Doctors Association of SKIMS and the SKIMS administration led by the hospital’s Director.

The stand-off began last week when SKIMS security staff clashed with two junior resident doctors and did not allow them to park vehicles at a particular parking lot. The brawl turned violent when two security officials and two non-security officials---one of them a clerk in Academic Section---exchanged fists and blows and one of the doctors, namely Dr Mubashir, a 3rd year PG student, sustained injuries. His associate, Dr Arafat, a Sr Resident, came to his rescue and rushed him to the hospital casualty for medical treatment. He has been discharged a couple of days ago.

Soon, both resident doctors, about 500 in number, and non-gazetted employees, numbering 4500, proceeded on strike with conflicting demands. The hospital administration ordered attachment of the two accused non-gazetted officials in an attempt to pacify the 500 resident doctors on strike. While the doctors expressed dissatisfaction and demanded FIR besides suspension of the two ‘delinquent officials’, the non-gazetted employees threatened to go for total shutdown in case the attachment orders were not withdrawn.

Finally, Director SKIMS revoked the orders. That led to suspension of the strike by 4500-strong non-gazetted employees union. They previously formed a 2000-strong procession and staged demonstration while using public address system to project their demands. Consequently, no tests or other laboratory works could be executed for four days, till the agitation was called off last evening.

However, the agitating doctors intensified their strike and all medical and surgery operations, including OPD, with exception of skeletal emergency services, have remained frozen for the 5th day today. Normally, 1500 to 2000 patients are treated daily at OPD of SKIMS in addition to 200 to 250 at Emergency. Even as the casualty is functional and nearly 200 patients are attended during strike, almost 90 percent of the OPD patients have been going back daily after failing to get examined by a doctor.

On the other hand, a large number of patients have been discharged on their request. Attendants in large numbers staged demonstrations as many as three times, once going upto Police Station Soura. Under the atmosphere of slogans and counter-slogans, work in most of the departments has come to a grinding hall and an unprecedented stand-off is aggravating with every passing day at SKIMS.


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