Amidst the protests, demands, ultimatums and apologies, a three-month-old child with spinal cord problem and other patients coming from various districts of West Bengal faced the brunt of the state-run hospitals doctors' strike as the stalemate entered its fourth day on Friday.
Pictures of patients lying on pavements near many city hospitals were indicators of the way the state's health care services have been completely throttled due to the "cease work" by the junior doctors in state-run hospitals.
While the doctors fought pressing for their demands regarding security and infrastructure, the hapless family members kept doing the rounds of different hospitals hoping to get some treatment, and fervently urged the state administration for Aquick action to normalise the services.
Patient Bhagya Das's husband has been knocking at the doors of Burdwan Medical College and Hospital since Wednesday for his wife's dialysis. Many thalassemia patients of various age groups seemed helpless as the outpatient departments (OPDs) remained closed.
"Please resume the work and do not make the dialysis patients and pregnant women suffer as they are not at fault. I apologise on behalf of all the patients of Bengal," a patient's kin requested medicos with folded hands at the NRS Medical College and Hospital - the epicentre of the protests. He pleaded with the doctors to empathise with the plight of poor people suffering without treatment.
The family members of a three-month-old ailing child looked heartbroken as they prepared to go back to their Murshidabad home after three futile days in the city when they visited one government hospital to another, only to face disappointment.
"I came here on Tuesday as my child has a spinal cord problem but wherever I am going, I am being sent back. We go to the hotel room at night and stay near the hospital for the entire day hoping for some solution. Now we are going back as we have limited resources," the child's father said.
Another patient's kin sympathised with the junior doctors' plight but advised them not to be harsh.
"Patient parties should never harm the doctors. But the doctors cannot make other patients suffer for somebody else's mistake," a woman in her thirties said.
On Thursday, a bereaved father was seen holding the body of his deceased infant outside Sagar Dutta Medical College in Kamarhati, in the suburbs of Kolkata, alleging that the child did not get any treatment.
The protests erupted at the state-run NRS Hospital on Tuesday morning bringing the regular services to a standstill, after a junior doctor was allegedly beaten up by the kin of a 75-year-old patient who died there late on Monday night.
The family members of the deceased patient alleged medical negligence. An intern named Paribaha Mukherjee sustained a serious skull injury in the attack and was admitted in the intensive care unit of the Institute of Neurosciences.
With improvement in his condition, Mukherjee has been shifted to the general bed and will be released from hospital within the next two days.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the state-run Seth Sukhlal Karnani Memorial (SSKM) Hospital around noon, as the protesting doctors continued to raise slogans, shouting "We want justice".
She shared some "pictures of suffering patients" that she witnessed at SSKM.
"Please take care of all patients. The poor people are coming from all districts. I will be honoured and obliged if you all please take full care of the hospitals," Banerjee wrote to the senior doctors.
However, her threat to promulgate the stringent Essential Services Maintenance Act and words like "political conspiracy" were not well received and the protests intensified. On Friday doctors of various medical colleges resorted to mass resignation.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)