Here is why Telangana doctors are opposing evening outpatient services

According to doctors, evening OPs is a good initiative but doctors and hospital staff should have been consulted prior to launching it.

BySumit Jha

Published Jul 27, 2022 | 8:30 AMUpdatedJul 27, 2022 | 8:30 AM

Evening OPs will be operated in government college hospitals functioning for more than nine years. (Supplied)

The Telangana government directive to start evening outpatient services (OPS) at all general and maternity hospitals has triggered protests by government doctors in the state.

The doctors recently turned up at hospitals wearing black badges to protest against the order and non-resolution of pending demands.

The protest was called by Telangana Teaching Government Doctors Association (TTGDA) to highlight its demands and the government’s decision to start the evening OPS without consulting them.

“This is a good initiative by the government. However, the stakeholders — doctors and hospital staff — were not consulted prior to the launch of evening OPS,” Telangana Healthcare Reforms Association (THRA) president Dr Mahesh Kumar told South First.

He added, “We came to know about the evening OPS only after the circular was issued by the Directorate of Medical Education (DME).”

Concerns

According to the government doctors, their concern was the timing of the evening OPS.

Kumar said, “Junior doctors, senior residents, and teaching faculty will be working at the evening OPS between 2 pm and 4 pm, which is already scheduled for academic and research work.”

He added: “If evening OPS is to start, who will attend to the patients? Will senior doctors be equally engaged during this time?”

Kumar also noted: “A doctor cannot attend evening OPS and emergency simultaneously. The government should increase manpower, or doctors working overtime should be compensated well.”

He added that hospitals in the state have at least 1,400 speciality-doctor posts vacant.

Kumar also questioned the requirement of an evening OPS when every hospital runs a 24×7 emergency service.

“The government should also appoint support staff, including technicians, to run the evening OPS smoothly,” the THRA president said.

Citing the National Medical Commission guidelines, TTGDA vice-president Dr Kirana Madala said, “Our main motto is to treat the outdoor patients in the morning, go on rounds in the afternoon, and later do academic work and research.”

DME under scanner

Madala noted that the circular has been issued by the DME and not the government. “We are working under the government. If it is to be implemented, there should be government orders,” he said.

Meanwhile, junior doctors have demanded that the government provide them accommodation at hospitals.

“If we work between 9 am and 6 pm, there will be no time left for us to study or even rest,” a Telangana Junior Resident Doctors Association representative said.

The doctors are also demanding the removal of the current DME, Dr Ramesh Reddy.

“The position of the DME is invalid. The current DME does not listen to any doctors and makes unilateral decisions,” Mahesh said

According to the DME, however, the doctors will not have to do overtime. “A roster system will be put in place to ensure no doctor is doing overtime,” Reddy said.

What is evening OPS?

The Telangana government decided to launch evening outpatient services in general and maternity hospitals to treat seasonal diseases.

The decision to launch evening OPS was taken during a review meeting chaired by Health Minister T Harish Rao with health officials after noting that patients coming from far-off places had to wait a few days to consult a doctor and get diagnostic results.

“People coming from rural or suburban areas can consult a doctor at the evening OPS and return home the same day,” Reddy explained.

“The evening OPS will be provided only in government medical colleges and hospitals that have been running for more than nine years,” he added.

He also said that doctors from Orthopaedics, General Medicine, General Surgery, Paediatrics, Obstetrics, and Gynaecology would examine patients in the evening OPS.