10 die as emergency services crippled in Andhra hospitals (Lead)

February 11th, 2012 - 7:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Feb 11 (IANS) At least 10 patients have died since Friday night at government-run hospitals in Andhra Pradesh where emergency services are crippled following a strike by junior doctors, officials said Saturday.

Hospital officials said eight patients died in the emergency ward of Gandhi Hospital here and one each in Visakhapatnam and Kurnool since Friday night. The relatives of the deceased alleged that lack of medical aid resulted in the death of their kins.

The state government, however, said the deaths were not due to the strike by junior doctors.

Minister for Medical Education Kondru Murali told reporters here that the patients died because they were brought to the hospitals late and also in very critical condition. “These deaths are routine and have nothing to do with the strike,” he said.

Meanwhile, the hopes of an early solution to the strike brightened Saturday evening as the government began talks with the junior doctors. The cabinet sub-committee, looking into their demands, held a meeting and later started talks with medicos to find a solution.

About 3,000 junior doctors in 10 teaching hospitals have been boycotting the emergency services since Friday evening to pressurise the government to accept their demands for a 40 percent hike in stipend and reduction in the compulsory service in rural areas from three years to one year.

They have been on strike for nearly a month to press for their demands.

Since 90 percent of the emergency services in the hospitals are rendered by the junior medicos, the strike has crippled the services.

Osmania and Gandhi Hospitals in Hyderabad are the worst hit as there is hardly any doctor available to attend to the patients.

Chaotic scenes were seen at casualty wards and intensive care units of various departments at the hospitals in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur, Kakinada, Tirupati, Anantapur, Kurnool and Warangal.

The authorities are using the services of non-clinical specialities staff, but the measure is proving inadequate in tackling the flow of patients, especially accident and burn victims and others who are critically ill, an official said.

The patients who can afford treatment in private hospitals are leaving the government facilities but the poor have no option but to stay there and hope for an early end to the standoff between the government and the striking junior doctors, the official added.

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