Published: 04th November 2022
Medical students, doctors oppose removal of bouncers at Lady Hardinge Medical College
Sources in the ministry said that the move came after Mansukh Mandaviya expressed displeasure while on a visit to the hospital
Following directions from Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, services of marshals and bouncers from the campus of Lady Hardinge Medical College (LHMC), New Delhi were terminated on November 2. In the midst of the possibility of the same move being implemented in other centre-run hospitals, medical students and resident doctors have expressed concern over threats to their safety.
While recalling instances of violence against doctors, a medical student from LHMC stated that security needs to be increased for the medical fraternity, rather than decreasing it. “Sometimes patients and their families do not see if the person is a full fledged doctor or a medical student, they will harm anyone who is wearing a white-coat if they do not get their way in terms of medication or treatment,” the student said, on the condition of anonymity.
Another student, from Lok Nayak Hospital, Delhi said that she has seen patients and their relatives throwing things at students and doctors. “They get aggressive and destroy property as well. Additionally, they are not scared of the security guards who might be present,” she said.
Sources in the ministry said that the move came after Mandaviya expressed displeasure during a visit to LHMC. He even shared in his speeches that the presence of heavy security arrangements intimidates patients, as stated in a report by The New Indian Express.
“They don’t come to fight. They (patients) come for the treatment and doctors should show empathy towards them,” the union minister had said while speaking at an event at Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) earlier this year. The Centre-run hospital’s deputy director V K Sharma wrote a letter to the private agency which was roped in for the security arrangement. “Services of marshals/bouncers are temporarily suspended at LHMC and Associated Hospitals,” the letter read, as per TNIE.
Medical fraternity, students speak out
Dr Aviral Mathur from Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA) informed EdexLive that recently, a pediatric surgeon was attacked in LHMC following which, the hospital equipped itself with bouncers. “We strongly condemn the move as law and order needs to be maintained in medical colleges and hospitals too. Such places are usually high on emotions as dire news is given to families. If there is a security presence, it will deter people from attacking us,” he added.
Students from the college said that with the presence of security, they were able to perform their duties better. “While coming back from my night duty, it feels quite unsafe, as I work in the public sector. The security at hospitals is not against the patients. But there are people who don't think twice before harassing someone. There is no doubt that Delhi is quite unsafe, but with the security we had, I was able to work peacefully and more importantly, to the best of my capacity,” a student from LHMC told EdexLive on the condition of anonymity.
Ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple reports of violence against healthcare workers have come to the fore. In fact, India had the highest number of coronavirus-related attacks, with 128 out of the 412 incidents, as per data of the Safeguarding Health in Conflict Coalition (SHCC).
“In the most recent attack in a hospital, a patient’s relative walked in with a gun and placed it on the nurse’s counter. It was an open threat,” said Dr Aviral. The job of security in such cases is to protect the healthcare personnel, he said. “If it is intimidating, then provide security in any other form. We are not just asking for bouncers, we want any uniformed personnel,” he added.
The students also expressed concern that this could trigger a transition to private hospitals. “This also changes the inclination of people working here to move to private sectors, consequently carrying various bad impacts on quality healthcare,” a student from LHMC told EdexLive on the condition of anonymity.
Dr Sabyasachi Mandal from the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) at LHMC informed that they have submitted a letter to the Health Ministry regarding the decision. “We haven’t received any response yet. But we will be pushing this matter as other colleges and government hospitals have marshals and that makes them feel safe,” he said.