Doctors in India are a harried lot, thanks to their paucity

Doctors will remain vulnerable to patients’ fury unless their force is multiplied

Mumbai: Resident doctors along with senior doctors take out a protest rally at the KEM hospital demanding security after an intern was assaulted by patient's relatives, in Mumbai on Wednesday
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New Delhi: Dearth of doctors is a major concern in India. Thanks to their paucity, they find themselves quite unequal to the enormity of patient burden. Experts say doctors will remain as vulnerable to patients’ fury unless their numbers are augmented.     

 In India, first of July is observed as Doctor’s Day. It is celebrated to emphasize the value that doctors hold in our lives and this day is meant to pay them respect for their selfless service. However, No one can deny the fact that over the last couple of years, doctors in India are feeling unsafe and threatened. A threat perception; a feeling of insecurity has been constantly looming over the already-burdened minds of medicos in our country. Once called ‘living gods on earth’, they are now frequently bearing tags such as ‘Dr. Death’ and ‘Dacoit Doctor’.

The episodes of assaults on doctors and threats have become so prevalent that doctors have united against this threat. Recently, an attack on junior doctors in West Bengal became the seed for a successful nationwide strike by all doctors with a notice of just two days. Some patient attendants in NRS Medical College Hospital attacked junior doctors after which, medics staged a strike. This strike got support from across the country, including the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which declared an All India Protest.

Speaking about the episode, Dr. Kapil Kochhar, Additional Director, Department of Bariatric, Minimal access & General Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Noida said, “According to data released by the health ministry in June last year, there is only one government allopathic doctor per 11,082 population, one government hospital bed per 1,844 population and one state-run hospital for every 55,591 population. The situation is so dire in the country that a 2017 study in the medical journal BMJ, the average time that primary care physicians spend with patients in India at an abysmal 2 minutes which is mainly due to the excessive burden on doctors. The data clearly reflects that India has a dearth of doctors.”

India is not just struggling with paucity of doctors, but our doctors work under challenging situations as well – poor or limited infrastructure, high in flow of patient, no holidays and no personal lives. Despite this, facing ire of the masses without sufficient reason can be overwhelming. If the trust between doctors and patients wanes, our country’s healthcare system will stand to crumble.

Speaking about the situation, “Mr. Vivek Srivastava, CEO, HCAH, “Doctors are the pillars of the Indian healthcare industry and traditionally been regarded highly by society. Unfortunately, in India, owing to multiple factors like shortage of skilled medical manpower, limited infrastructure, demographical and geographical challenges, doctors operate in a challenging environment. This situation is worsened by the lack of trust between doctors and patients which has become evident from the recent attacks and assaults on doctors. Home-based healthcare services are one such model which has the potential to efficiently solve a number of current challenges faced by the India’s healthcare sector. Home-based healthcare relieves the growing burden on doctors by shifting the load off hospitals to a patient’s home without compromising on quality of care, allowing doctors to treat a greater number of patients. This is a win – win situation for both the patients and doctor community”

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