I am a final year student pursuing my MBBS from NRS Medical College, Kolkata.

Before you decide to shame me for being in a noble profession and choosing to make patients suffer, hear me out.

Just yesterday, interns in my college were beaten up for being unable to save a patient. They even assaulted a female. No police came to our rescue. No media came to report the violence.

Shut down emergency at hospitals in Bengal
Lockdown at the Emergency gate of MRS Medical College: hospital or war zone?

Interns had to call people from the hostel for help and as usual, a hospital ER turned into a war zone. The police did come though. They came to rescue one of the accused who was caught by the junior doctors. And they put him in confinement. Bottomline: somebody who prevented a doctor from doing his duty by physically assaulting him is being given protection by the police.

Oh yes, the media did come. And what did they report? Something along the lines of: “Patient dies due to medical negligence and junior doctors beat up helpless patient parties.”

Now, of course, this idea stems from not having been let into the ER premises. Consequently, the media could only interview patient relatives and to spice that up, other people whose patients died a completely natural death were urged on to go and crib in front of the camera.

No seriously, this happened:”Okhaane camera achhe, okhaane giye kannakati korun,” was something which was told to the patient parties.

(Translation: the camera is there, go and cry in front of it.)

Shut down emergency at hospitals in Bengal
A description of the incident at the ER, NRS Medical College on 4th September.

For anybody who is well versed with the government hospital scenario in West Bengal, it is common knowledge that junior doctors of NRS Medical College believe in the tit-for-tat dictum.

But even in a college where the junior doctors are quick to rise up to violence inflicted by patient parties, assaulting a doctor has become a common practice.

We’ve done it all.

Demonstrations. Peace marches. Suspension of work (excluding emergency though). Protests. Hunger strikes. Deputations.

What we haven’t ever done is to go beyond humanity.

Shut down emergency at hospitals in Bengal
Dr. Anirban Dalui, who had been sitting on a solitary hunger strike at Medical College, Kolkata

Throughout Bengal, doctors have been subject to the worst form of assaults including something as pathetic as having human poop smeared on a doctor (Debra PHC, Midnapore). Yet, no concrete action has ever been taken.

Also read: Doctors Wear Helmets in AIIMS To Protest Against Another Doctor Being Kicked Like A Street Dog

We have always been assured. Promised. Placated. Calmed. Threatened with suspension.

Judges have told us that we should sit at home if we are too scared to work. Ministers have specifically asked for names of doctors who protest.

After every incidence of violence, there is increased police activity for the next week. After 7 days, the incident is (in)conveniently forgotten.

Being junior doctors, we are answerable to a lot of people. If interns don’t go to work, the departments might not give them the completion certificates. If the PGTs do not work, they will have to answer to their unit heads.

So, everyday a bunch of young, and apparently the most intelligent minds of the country sit on uncomfortable ER chairs with the constant fear of “will I be beaten today?” nagging in their minds.

Desperate times call for desperate measures

If the junior doctors were to shut down emergency at hospitals in Bengal, the health system would crumble within hours. There are not enough senior doctors in Bengal to cater to the huge patient load in government hospitals.

Most of the charges against us are of negligence when we have been perfectly dutiful. So let us see what happens when we actually decide to be negligent.

Shut down emergency at hospitals in Bengal
Junior doctors sitting in protest of the attacks against doctors including a lady doctor at NRS.

It will not take much time to force the government to agree to our basic demands of a safe work environment if we really do unanimously shut down emergency at hospitals in Bengal. Yes, we will be threatened tremendously initially, but if we can live through that pressure like the doctors in Sion, Maharashtra did, we’ll emerge victorious.

It is time to let the state government know that the doctors cannot always be the scapegoat for non-existent infrastructure, the Pandora’s box of free treatment and understaffed institutions.

There have been enough of demonstrations and marches. We have heard enough of, “You can’t shut down the emergency and kill innocent patients.”

Just like we have a moral responsibility to serve our patients, the government has a moral responsibility to provide a safe work environment. Working fans and lights, proper washrooms, adequate medicines are other basic rights which we’re not even in a position to demand.

The time is ripe. Since we have been robbed of our nobility, it is time to be a little ignoble for the greater good.

Shut down emergency at hospitals in Bengal. We have been cornered and desperate times call for desperate measures. It is time to corner the authorities now.

Image credits: Facebook

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