‘Students will become ineligible for competitive exams due to working in Covid care wards’.


New Delhi: The Delhi government on Thursday ordered 108 private hospitals and seven state-run hospitals to de-escalate the number of Covid-19 beds in view of fewer coronavirus cases. The government has also decided to convert the GTB and Lok Nayak hospitals, that were completely dedicated to Covid patients, be made partially Covid.

“The occupancy of Covid-19 beds has gone down and has reached a comfortable level. With over 85% of the beds vacant, the government has decided to convert the GTB and Lok Nayak hospitals that were completely Covid be made partially Covid. All other services will be restarted soon,” Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain told media on Thursday.

This decision comes at a time when the resident doctors and students of Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) have been protesting and demanding that non-Covid services should be resumed in Lok Nayak Hospital. The agitating doctors are also demanding that their academic curriculum should be resumed and first-year PG students should be brought back from the periphery.

After the order to reduce the number of Covid beds came on Thursday, the Resident Doctors’ Association of MAMC said that they are happy, but there are still several unresolved issues.

Dr Keshave Singh, President of MAMC’s Resident Doctors’ Association, told The Sunday Guardian: “The first and foremost demand is to open the medical colleges. There are 250 students in one batch and the new batch has not yet started, while the old batches are stuck where they were. So now, the first year will have 500 students and the society will be deprived of 250 MBBS graduates this year which means 250 fewer doctors in society. Second, all anaesthesia department is posted in Covid ICU and without anaesthesia support, OTs cannot run; so patients are suffering and PG residents’ surgical teaching is yet to start. Third, LNH was around 1400 bedded hospital only and its capacity was enhanced by putting in beds in areas like OPD and similar vacant spaces. So, freeing up 1,000 beds effectively means an IPD of only around 400 beds. And running the largest Delhi hospital with 400 beds is going to be a daunting task.”

These protesting doctors have written several letters to the Medical Director, Dean, Health Ministries and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, but nothing substantial has happened so far.

After a meeting with the Medical Director of the Lok Nayak Hospital on Monday, the doctors were informed that OPD services will resume in the orthopaedics block and OPD block in the first week of January.  Once the partial non-Covid services become functional and clinical classes resume, the college will also be opened in a phase-wise manner. After this meeting, the RDA has decided to suspend the protest till 15 January 2021.

According to these doctors, all clinical training have come to a standstill since March and a large proportion of teaching time has been lost.

“All other teaching hospitals, except Lok Nayak Hospital and Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, have been continuing as per MCI curriculum and hence, the students here are lagging behind and will be ineligible for various competitive examinations due to working in Covid care wards. This is causing dual mental stress for our residents, first due to working exclusively in Covid care for the last 10 months and secondly, due to the uncertainty of future due to academic loss,” RDA, MAMC, said in a statement.

Lok Nayak Hospital being associated with the Maulana Azad Medical College, serves the dual purpose as teaching hospital and tertiary care centre. Due to exclusive Covid designation, the clinical classes and elective surgeries have come to a halt. “The first-year postgraduate students have been deployed in the periphery by the orders of Chief Secretary, Health and now they are doing the clerical job at peripheral district centres for more than six months where there is no scope of any learning. This step is completely defeating the purpose for which they have joined the prestigious Maulana Azad Medical College. The deployment of students in the periphery has reduced the workforce at the hospital thereby, several residents are forced to do continuous repeat duties. Some of the residents have done more than six rounds of duties in the Covid wards since March. The future of more than 1,250 undergraduate students, 200 interns, 600 postgraduate students, 300 senior resident doctors and several students of super-specialization courses is at stake,” Singh said.