7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

SMC doctors plan 'direct action' against daily assaults

BAHRAIN doctors are up in arms due to lack of action at what they call a "grievous threat" of continued assaults by patients and their relatives. The Bahrain Medical Society (BMS) is planning "direct action" and keeping its options open in case no concrete steps are taken in the next one week.

"We are very perturbed at the almost daily assaults at the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) and have made it known that this will not be accepted," said BMS chairman Dr Abdulla Al Ajmi.

He was reacting to the latest incident on Wednesday involving an Indian cardiologist who was reportedly assaulted by the relatives of an elderly patient after she died. The doctor was reportedly explaining to the relatives what had happened when he was assaulted.

"This is the last straw and time that someone cracks the whip," Dr Al Ajmi said.

"We have seen there have been many assaults on not only doctors but other staff at the hospital and have concluded we are always at risk.

"We should have adequate security and people who attack and assault us should be immediately booked."

Dr Al Ajmi said the BMS is also upset with the fact that the cardiologist was pressurised by the police in withdrawing his case against the attackers.

"We have been told he was summoned to the police station and asked to withdraw his complaint. He has also done so, but this is not the message that should be going out," he said.

Dr Al Ajmi said there is a Civil services Bureau (CSB) law that protects all civil servants on duty. "I have never seen that law implemented in the hospital. Are we not working? Are we not on duty? We demand that the law be implemented in letter and spirit and security be spruced up in the hospital," he said.

Dr Al Ajmi also claims that a "risk allowance" for SMC staff, particularly for those working in the Accident and Emergency Department, has been mooted several times. "That proposal has never been taken seriously. We do not even know whether it has been forwarded to the CSB."

Dr Al Ajmi said he also blamed the hospital authorities for the lack of action.

"The incident was never reported to the Health Minister by the chief of medical staff, Dr Adel Al Jishi, even though he was aware of it," he alleged.

"The minister called me after he read about it in the newspaper and said he was shocked at the incident. He also promised he would look into it," he said.

He said the hospitals' assistant under-secretary Dr Abdul Hai Al Awadhi said the ministry would take a very serious view of this and the earlier incidents.

"I have since had a meeting with the minister, Dr Faisal Al Hamer, who has also promised swift action," said Dr Al Ajmi.

However, the BMS would hold a meeting early next week and decide on the future course of action. "We are just giving some time to the authorities who have now promised they would take the attackers to court," said Dr Al Ajmi.

The GDN has reported over the last few months about attacks on doctors at the Accident and Emergency Department by patients and their relatives. Several cases of assault have repeatedly been brought to the authorities' notice but each time, it is alleged, the attackers have got away due to doctors not reporting at police stations to follow up on cases.

In one instance, an Indian doctor was so terrified after he was assaulted at the hospital that he went on leave. In another case, a Bahraini doctor was pushed by the relative of a patient after he refused to give him a sick leave certificate.

Department chairman Dr Jassim Al Mehza had said he would propose a BD500 risk allowance for staff who came into contact with patients. He said he was perturbed at the repeated assaults. On an average, one doctor was assaulted every day at the department either because he refused a sick leave certificate or because he was not giving a particular medication, he said.

He said a long-standing demand of doctors for a police station within the hospital has not been approved. The fact that a doctor who makes a complaint has to go to the police station repeatedly to follow-up on it and if he did not, the case got dismissed was unacceptable, Dr Al Mehza said.

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