Healthcare services hit due to private hospitals’ strike

Bhubaneswar:  As many as 2000 private hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centres and patho labs across Odisha today downed their shutters in support of the 24-hour strike call given by the All Odisha Private Medical Establishment Forum (AOPMEF).

The AOPMEF is demanding amendments in the Odisha Clinical Establishments Act, especially the one that requires the establishments to adhere to fire safety norms.

Bike rallies were organised at Cuttack and Bhadrak where protestors carrying plycards and banners raised slogans pressing for changes in the Act. A similar rally was also  organised at the Master Canteen area of Bhubaneswar.

During the bandh, private hospitals closed the outdoor departments and denied admitting new patients. However, the treatment of existing patients continued.

Narrating the problems faced on account of the strike, a patient from Balasore said, “I have stomach pain and therefore, had come for an ultra sound test. As private hospitals are closed, I have no other options left.”

Echoing similar sentiments, relative of a patient from Bolangir said, “Usually government hospitals are crowded, which is why we went to a private hospital for medical tests. But we were disappointed today as private hospitals are on strike.”

Meanwhile, the State Health Department has pulled up its sleeves to handle the flow of patients and to ensure that services are not hampered. Leaves of all the doctors and workers have been cancelled and more paramedical staff and doctors have been appointed in the casualty, trauma care and women & maternal care departments.

“All the doctors have been asked to be on duty in casualty, trauma care, and labour room as load in these departments could remain higher,” Emergency officer of SCB medical, Bhubanananda Maharana said.

Chief Medical Officer of Ispat General Hospital (IGH), Rourkela, Prashant Kumar Patra said “We are fully prepared to attend patients with life threatening or emergency conditions.”

Director of Health Service, Braja Kishore Brahma said “The State government has proactively relaxed several requirements for private hospitals. Though the Health Secretary had called the private hospitals to come for discussions, they did not turn up. In a day or two, we will again ask them for discussions to resolve the issues.”

“We are managing health services at the government hospitals well to ensure that no patients are affected by the strike. Yesterday we had directed all CDMOs and medical college superintendents to take necessary steps,” he added.

The  AOPMEF  alleged that registration and  renewal of licenses have become difficult for private health care facility providers under the Odisha Clinical Establishments Act.

Demanding formation of a State-level Clinical Establishment Council, President of AOPMEF, Ajay Mishra said “We have been presenting our demands before the State government on registration and license renewal of around 2,000 clinical establishments. However, the demand has not been met yet and we feel helpless.”

“It is impossible to follow their fire safety rules that have asked for specifications of room area and number of exits and entries. The houses from where these establishments are operating were built long back and cannot be altered now. It is unfair to clamp down such rules all of a sudden and it will only lead to closure of all such clinics and hospitals,” said  Member of  AOPMEF, Sadanand Sahu .