Doctors' Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday urged the J&K government to end the practice of winter vacation for doctors in the valley saying the long break caused immense hardships to patients.
President DAK, Dr Nisar ul Hassan said in a statement that it was "ironical that senior doctors in Kashmir valley are allowed for holidaying en masse at a time when their services are needed the most".
"Come winter, senior doctors abandon their places of work to evade the harsh winter of the valley and go on sojourn within and outside the country," he said.
The DAK President said every year, faculty of referral hospitals go for two month winter vacation leaving patients to fend for themselves.
The patients, he said, "are left to die due to non-availability of senior doctors during harsh winter when Kashmir remains cut-off from rest of the world" adding that "hundreds of patients, every day turn up at these hospitals from far flung areas only to be told that senior doctors are on leave."
With doctors on leave, there is problem in conducting outpatient and inpatient services in hospitals, Dr Nisar said.
He also alleged that planned surgeries are cancelled and procedures are further delayed due to the winter break.
"In absence of senior doctors, hospitals are run by junior doctors who find it difficult to cope with the rush of patients and are unable to handle complicated cases," he said.
Dr Nisar said winter brings more patients to hospitals but they are "left uncared as doctors are on holidays".
He said the number of heart attacks and strokes doubles in winter and there is increased mortality among these patients due to non-availability of senior doctors.
The DAK President said there are increased numbers of pneumonia cases and hospitals are "flooded with asthmatics and chronic lung disease patients during winter", D Nisar said.
Besides, there are far more fire-related cases and fair amount of accident cases due to slip or skid on icy streets, he added.
He further said that in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic this year, "many severely ill patients related to the virus continue to get admitted in hospitals."
Although SKIMS hospital has cancelled winter vacation for doctors in view of Covid-19 crisis this year, doctors at GMC Srinagar and its associated hospitals are "enjoying winter holidays," Dr Nisar said.