‘What have we done?’ In Didi vs Doctors battle, patients are the real victims

Junior doctors across all state-run hospitals in West Bengal are on a strike, demanding adequate security in medical colleges and hospitals after two of their colleagues were brutally beaten up at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata. The two junior doctors were assaulted on Monday night by family members of a patient who died in the NRS Hospital.

While there is no end in sight with both Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and doctors standing their ground, it’s the patients who are the real victims caught between the crossfire.

Patients from across the West Bengal, some even from outside the state, visit Kolkata hospitals for treatment. Many of the poor families sacrifice their daily wages and spend thousands of rupees to travel to the state capital in the hope for better facilities. However, with doctors strike entering the fifth day today, all they have gotten is disappointment.

Some have even lost their kin in the absence of doctors and cannot even put blame on anyone. Their only question to anyone who is ready to listen is: ‘What have we done to suffer this?’

Rahul Biswas, who came from Basirhat for treatment of his mother, is returning with her dead body. Sulta Biswas, a cancer patient, arrived at NRS Hospital in Kolkata after her condition got worse last week.

“She was a cancer patient and recently received surgery. We came here after her she got a stomachache. We arranged blood and everything but nothing happened as there was a strike. She was admitted here on last Saturday but there is no doctor after the strike,” Rahul said.

Ram Chandra Sahu of Hooghly is at the NRS Hospital with his wife, a cancer patient. She lost her voice recently and arrived at the hospital on Tuesday to see a doctor. The couple, both senior citizens, spends Rs 250 to just reach Kolkata from their home and again came on Saturday with the hope to see a doctor.

The couple’s daughters run a vegetable shop near their home and they have spent whatever they are earning on their mother’s travel from Hooghly to Kolkata, a journey that has borne no fruit.

Another family detailed their ordeal of getting a child treated after a head injury. While the little girl has stitches on her head, she has been unable to see a doctor because of the strike.

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