Agitated employees threaten to prolong agitation
Patient care has come to a grinding halt in peripheral hospitals across the State as National Health Mission (NHM) employees continued their strike for 29th straight day--seeking regularization of their services, while authorities at the helm are in slumber.
Over 8000 employees including doctors and paramedical staff working in different health facilities are observing strike to pressurize the government to regularize their services.
The strike has affected patient care in the district, sub-district hospitals, primary health centres (PHCs) and sub-centres with hospital administrators make existing staff work for extra hours.
Patients from Kreeri area of Baramulla told Rising Kashmir said that the Primary Health Centres and sub-centres have been badly hit and paramedical staff like pharmacists attend patients.
“There is already a dearth of doctors in our area. At PHC Kalantra, PHC Kachwamuqam and PHC Srakwara, investigation services have been halted after the strike. Patients are suffering and are compelled to visit Baramulla for minor ailments,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a resident of Kalantra.
He said there is no doctor available at the Kalantra hospital where a Female Multipurpose Health Worker (FMPHW) and a pharmacist attend patients including expecting mothers.
“The sub-centres are almost deserted and the registrations have been stopped from a month now. Most of the staff posted in these facilities work under NHM,” said the resident.
After the strike, the doctors as well as paramedical staff at district and sub-district hospitals are overburdened and tend at the huge referral of patients from the peripheral hospitals.
The situation is grim in Budgam hospital, where local residents said 80% PHCs have been badly affected and patients are compelled to travel longer distances for consultations.
“At SDH Magam, Beerwah and Chadoora there are around two hundred NHM employees. All are on strike. Patients are suffering,” said Ishfaq Ahmad, a resident of Budgam.
Similarly, at Khansahib, Khag, Pakherpora and Charari Sharief medical blocks, the patients are bearing the brunt of the strike and are compelled to move Srinagar hospitals.
“Hospitals are almost locked and deserted. Patients are crying for help,” he said.
Patients from sub-district hospital Chadoora said that there are at least 6 NHM doctors in the hospital and around 60 paramedical employees in the block, all are on strike.
At sub-district hospital Pattan, the patient services have also taken a hit with health officials saying after the strike the hospital is witnessing huge patient load from the nearby PHCs.
“There are seven NHM doctors and over twenty paramedics. Regular staff is overburdened and are asked to do extra work during day and night which is impossible,” said a doctor at Pattan hospital.
The strike has forced hospital administrators to amend duty rosters. The agitation has also affected the operation theatres as regular schedules have been changed and postponed.
Patients from Ganderbal, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag said they were facing inconvenience in hospitals as most of the health facilities are suffering due to the strike.
“Maternity and childcare are missing. There is already a manpower shortage. We have never seen such tough days we have to move district hospital for a minor ailment,” said a resident of Anantnag.
Srinagar’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital (JLNM) Rainawari and Government Gousia hospital Khanyar are also bearing the brunt of the nearly a month strike leaving patients angry.
The employees continued their strike on 29th day across J&K against the government for failing to regularize their services and threatened to intensify agitation if their demands were not met.
In Jammu, the employees have started a hunger strike.
Chief spokesperson, J&K National Health Mission Employees Association, Abdul Rauoof said they had been approaching concerned quarters for regularization but nothing has been done so far.
“The government has neglected us. Authorities at the helm have failed to fulfil the commitments from the past six years. We had been betrayed,” he said.
As per him, their demands had been acknowledged many times by the government but there has been no headway forcing them to choose the path of agitation.
“We will not call off the strike until the government comes out with a roadmap or written assurance on the regularization of our services,” he said.
In March 2017, after their strike, the State government had set up a committee to look into their regularization and had submitted its report to the government in January 2018.
The authorities at the helm are in deep slumber since the employees started agitation and there has been no response from them.
Mission Director NHM, J&K, Bhupendra Kumar did not respond to repeated phone calls and text messages from Rising Kashmir. He had earlier said that they were committed to resolve the genuine demands of the employees.