Hyderabad: The resident doctors at the Gandhi Hospital called off their strike after Eatala Rajender, Telangana Health Minister, assured them that the hospital superintendent has been instructed to make necessary arrangements to start the non-COVID services in the hospital.

"The health minister assured us that the non-COVID services will start soon. We have called off the strike but within a week if the services don't restart then we will resume strike. As of now, we are putting the strike on hold," said Dr B. Kiran Kumar, General Secretary, Telangana Junior Doctors Association unit at the Gandhi Hospital.

The resident doctors of Gandhi hospital, the nodal COVID centre in the state, had called for an indefinite strike beginning Sunday. The doctors demanded the re-opening of the non-COVID wards in the hospital.

Ever since the country's youngest state Telangana reported its first COVID case on 2 March, 2020, Gandhi Hospital had been treating COVID patients. The non-COVID wards were shut and the patients were being directed to Osmania General Hospital and others.

The resident doctors said that restarting non-COVID services would help patients suffering from other ailments. "As Gandhi hospital has been converted to a COVID specialty hospital, residents lost their crucial clinical experience for the last seven months. Along with the teaching faculty nearly 600 residents, 350 interns, 600 patient care staff have been treating only 400 patients for the 1,500 beds at the hospital," the association said.

If the non-COVID services are allowed they would help proper utilisation of workforce and healthcare facilities, they said. After the COVID pandemic began, the Gandhi Hospital and College was turned into a COVID only hospital in the state and has been receiving COVID patients only.

Throughout the eight-month period of treating COVID patients, the doctors have staged protest twice demanding decentralisation of treatment of COVID patients by other government hospitals.

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