by Michael Woodhead
More than 200 hospital staff staged a sudden strike and protest at the Yueyang Second Hospital after medical staff were attacked, held hostage and forced to kneel in front of the body of a patient.
The incident arose after a young man was brought into the hospital emergency department on August 20th with stab wounds. The patient, a 31-year old male called Chen Qiming, was critically ill and did not survive for long. After his death, dozens of relatives of the dead man came into the hospital and created havoc, seizing and beating medical staff and forcing them to kneel in front of the body of their dead relative in the mortuary. The family members also ran riot in the hospital, smashing up offices and blocking entrances, disrupting normal working of the hospital for eight hours.
The next morning hospital staff said they would refuse to work until those responsible for the attacks had been brought to justice and they were provided with adequate safety protection in the workplace.
They carried placards saying "Expecting fairness, give us respect". The protest attracted a large crowd of onlookers, and the strikers said they demanded that their legal rights be respected.
A staff member at the hospital said the mood of staff was indignant and emotional. Hospital managers had advised them not to stage a protest but to instead take their grievances to the local government office. However, the staff opted for a spontaneous strike and could not be blocked.
When the staff were attacked many other staff members including doctors and ambulance drivers came to their help, and police were called. However, despite trying to mediate, the more than 150 police were unable to settle the situation for eight hours.
A spokesman for the Yueyang City Health Bureau said an investigation had been launched into the incident. Local police said they were also investigating the incident but had not yet contacted the families said to have been involved in the attacks.
According to sources at the hospital this is the second violent attack on staff this year and the third violent medical dispute in Hunan in in the last two months.