Close to 750 resident doctors at Sir JJ Hospital went on an indefinite strike from May 31, seeking immediate action by the government against ex-DMER director Dr T P Lahane and ophthalmology department head Dr Ragini Parekh for their allegedly dictatorial way of running the department. The residents, who have been on the warpath for a couple of days, said that the duo’s style of functioning had led to their being deprived of hands-on surgical experience.
HT on May 28 had reported on the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) at JJ Hospital demanding an inquiry into the allegations made by the resident doctors. In their letter to the dean, MARD and the residents said that ex-dean Dr T P Lahane, despite no longer being at JJ, was continuing to practise in the department and conducting cataract surgeries, which they claimed was adversely impacting their academic activities. They maintained that despite JJ being the apex institute of the country, where a huge number of cataract surgeries are done annually, the current Junior Resident 2 batch and Junior Resident 1 batch (a total of 28 residents) had done zero cataract surgeries.
MARD has also written to the state medical education minister Girish Mahajan and the Maharashtra University of Health Sciences (MUHS) to look into the matter. “We seek an immediate transfer of the two doctors, as their presence is anti-academic, anti-resident, illegal and unethical,” said Dr Shubham Soni, president, MARD. “Dr Lahane does not hold a position in the hospital. Our claims have been validated by the JJ Hospital’s three-member committee too.”
The three-member committee at Sir JJ Hospital was formed last week to investigate the resident doctors’ allegations, and found that the doctors were not trained in basic cataract surgery. The committee also found that the department had only one Unit, which is against the National Medical Commission (NMC) guidelines.
Meanwhile, Dr Lahane and Dr Parekh, along with seven other doctors working in the ophthalmology department on a contract basis, told the media that they had resigned from their posts because of false complaints by MARD and harassment by JJ Dean Dr Pallavi Saple.
Dr Saple, when questioned, said that her office had not received a single resignation till 8 pm on Wednesday. “However, we have received Dr Parekh’s medical leave application dated May 31, where she says she has extended her present leave by 15 days,” she said. Speaking about the indefinite strike, Dr Saple said she had written to the BMC hospitals to supply JJ Hospital with manpower for smooth functioning.
The dean has also formed a committee headed by the medical superintendent to review resident doctors’ allegations that Dr Lahane’s son, Dr Sumeet Lahane, was operating at JJ Hospital despite not holding any post. On May 30, HT reported on the resident doctors’ letter to the dean, alleging that Dr Sumeet Lahane was attempting to manipulate and intimidate them into withdrawing their initial complaint against his father.
Sources told HT that the committee had gone through the CCTV footage and patient records, and found that although Dr Sumeet did not have any order from JJ Hospital, he would routinely operate and examine patients. “Dr Parekh will be questioned if she was aware of this and how she was allowing it,” said the sources. “We will also seek the advice of the higher authorities on the legal action that can be taken against him.”
Ophthalmology resident doctors said it had taken a while for them to gather the courage to speak against the wrongdoings in the department. “We are told that Dr Lahane is the coordinator of the state government’s ‘Preventable Blindness-Free Maharashtra Mission’ programme, which is commendable,” said one of the 28 resident doctors from the ophthalmology department. “Our point is why does he have to work only out of JJ Hospital? Why can’t he go to any other state medical college? Because of the state’s programme, our academics are getting affected. We are not getting trained as ophthalmologists. Is it not the state’s loss as well?” Hindustan Times