Patients suffer in hospitals, surgeries cancelled at SMHS

GMC contractual paramedics’ strike

Irfan Tramboo
Srinagar, July 22: Patient care today took a hit as more than 500 contractual Paramedics of Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar and Associated Hospitals stayed away from their work in order to press for their demands.
The worst hit was Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital Srinagar where the scheduled surgeries were rescheduled and the patients who were prepped for the surgeries were either told to go back or were made to wait for hours together. All the major operation theatres were either closed or were partially functional.
Scores of attendants of the patients said that their surgeries have been rescheduled due to strike. Some of the surgeries have been cancelled owing to the non-availability of paramedics in the operation theatres.
“My mother had a surgery scheduled for today, she was prepared for the surgery. However, at the last minute, we were told that the surgery has been postponed and will be carried out in a day or two,” said Mohammad Ashraf.
The J&K Medical Employees Federation had called for a 2-day hunger strike to press for their demands. The strike is scheduled to continue on Tuesday as well. The GMC has cancelled the leaves of all the regular employees for two days of the strike.
However, the Principal GMC Srinagar Dr Pervaiz Ahmad Shah told Excelsior that they have managed the patient care and have not let the patients suffer.
“We have engaged the regular staff owing to the strike by the paramedics. The emergency is fully functional. There have been few cases where the surgeries have been postponed, but by and large we have taken care of the patients to a larger extent,” Dr Shah said.
Regarding the demands of the paramedics, Dr Shah said he cannot comment on it as the matter was sub-judice. “The issue is going on for last many years, the Government was considering their demands, but in the meanwhile, they went to the court which issued the orders to maintained status quo,” he said.
He said that the paramedics were posted at critical areas such as theatres. “But we have replaced them with the regular staff that we have with us. We have managed it all, especially at major hospitals such as Lal Ded and Bone and Joints Hospital,” he added.
There are more than 1000 such paramedics who were engaged on the basis of a contract under the academic arrangement. More than 500 hundred are working in GMC Srinagar, while as the rest are working in GMC Jammu.
President, Contractual Paramedics’ Association (academic arrangement) GMC Srinagar Hilal Ahmad told Excelsior that they in no way want to make the patients suffer, but the administration was not considering their genuine demands for last so many years.
“For last 9 years, we have been pressing for our demands, our major demand is that our services should be regularized apart from providing us 2 and a half day salary, maternity leave, and risk allowances. The court has directed to maintain status quo but so far nothing more has been done,” he said.
He added that the department of Anesthesia at SMHS is fully run by the contractual paramedics and only 6 people are there who are permanent. “In a way there are more than 6 theatres that are closed as of now as there is 99 percent of manpower of contractual employees that are running it,” he said.