Out Patient Department (OPD) services at the Centre-run RML, Safdarjung and Lady Hardinge hospitals here were suspended on Saturday as resident doctors protested the repeated postponement of the NEET-PG 2021 counselling. This follows a nationwide call by the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA) for the suspension of outpatient department (OPD) services at hospitals from November 27 to protest the delay in the counselling process.
OPDs generally see low patient footfalls on weekends. FORDA said an online meeting of representatives of various RDAs from across the country was held on Saturday evening.
“Following a virtual meeting with State #RDA Representatives today, it has been decided that the “Withdrawal from OPD Services” by #ResidentDoctors will be continued. The Medical fraternity stands united in this fight for Justice!” it tweeted. Members of the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) at RML Hospital backed FORDA’s call.
“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, admission to various courses in NEET PG 2021 has been delayed indefinitely. The residents are carrying both Covid and non-Covid services tirelessly in the last one-and-a-half years and exhausted both physically and mentally. “They have been waiting patiently till date for some positive outcome of the Supreme Court proceedings in the matter of already delayed NEET PG 2021 counselling. However, there seems no respite to their physical and mental distress, with the next court hearing scheduled on January 6, 2022,” the RML RDA said in a letter to the hospital administration.
“To mark our protest against these repeated delays and postponement in counselling, we the residents of ABVIMS and Dr RML Hospital decide to withdraw OPD services from Saturday, 27 November 2021 onwards, including Sunday OPDs,” it said. The doctors’ associations demanded that the government and the top court take necessary measures to expedite the NEET PG counselling and admission process and fast-track the court proceedings.
A large number of students, mostly those pursuing post graduation at Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), gathered in front of the office of the medical superintendent at its attached facility, LNJP Hospital, to voice their concern over the issue, a senior doctor at the hospital said. “There were about 70-80 students who gathered outside the office in the portico area and voiced their concerns,” she said, adding that OPD services were not affected at LNJP Hospital.
In another tweet, FORDA said its president met Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to seek a resolution. However, the protest will continue. “A meeting was held today between @FordaIndia President & Hon’ble @mansukhmandviya Sir & the discussion held, is as per the #PressRelease. Our #Protest continues & further course of action will be decided following today’s virtual meeting with all State #RDAs,” it tweeted.
In its statement, FORDA said it has received a communication from the health minister’s office stating that the “process of examining the pending issue of reservation policy will be completed by coming Wednesday (instead of 4 weeks) and the matter will be put up in the Supreme Court next week itself”. “However, we are continuing with our protest,” the statement said.
The AIIMS RDA also urged the government of India to actively intervene in the matter urgently and expedite the counselling process. It said it is extremely unfortunate that the NEET-PG 2021 counselling has been delayed indefinitely despite the fact that nearly two months have passed since the results of the entrance test were announced.
The entrance exam, which is usually held in the first quarter of the calendar year, was already delayed by many months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This extreme delay has led to a shortage of manpower in medical colleges all across India, the AIIMS RDA said in a statement. “Thousands of postgraduate seats will remain unfilled this year if the counselling remains postponed. As COVID-19 cases are increasing in many countries across the world, it is prudent that our nation remains prepared for another wave of the pandemic.
“The current working pool of resident doctors is already overburdened, which can have an adverse impact on optimum delivery of healthcare services. The admission process of the new batch of residents should therefore be completed without any further delay,” it said.