Twenty-one patients in the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) have died after a strike by junior doctors that entered its third day Saturday, authorities said.
'While six patients died Thursday, 15 died in the last 24 hours. Lack of doctors in the emergency ward led to most deaths,' a government official said.
More than 400 junior doctors are on an indefinite strike from Thursday demanding hike in their stipends.
The strike has badly hit the emergency, outdoor and surgery services in the hospital.
The hospital authorities have sought the help of the state health department to cope up with the situation. More than 50 doctors have been requisitioned from nearby hospitals but only a dozen have joined.
'In last two days, hundreds of patients were forced to shift to private nursing homes. Those who cannot afford treatment outside have been left in the lurch,' a senior doctor said.
A leader of the junior doctors' association said their demand for a hike in stipend has been pending for some years.
'We get stipend of Rs.13,000 in the first year, Rs.14,000 in second and Rs.15,000 in the third year of post-graduation. We are demanding that this amount be increased to Rs.22,500 at par with some neighbouring states,' the doctor said.
Hundreds of poor patients, who came for treatment from across the state, are the greatest victims of the strike.
Arvind Prasad, a relative of a patient, said: 'We are the main victims of the strike because there is no doctor to attend to the patients.'
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