New Delhi, June 2 : It was a harrowing experience for thousands of patients at the Safdarjung Hospital Wednesday as over 300 medical students and some junior doctors continued their strike for a second straight day demanding better hostel facilities.

The students of Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College (VMCC), the hospital's medical college, have been protesting since Tuesday against unavailability of drinking water, lifts and air-conditioning in their hostel for months.

The protest has hit hard services at the government-run Safdarjung Hospital, one of the oldest and busiest in the capital, frequented mainly by lower income families.

The students accused the police of trying to break their protest forcibly. "They used lathis on us. They stopped only after seeing girls on strike," a third-year MBBS student said.

Chaos prevailed as students on hunger strike forced the closure of the out-patient departments, affecting over 8,000 patients.

"I have blood cancer and have to go through periodical blood transfusions. I was called by the doctor today for one session. Despite waiting for over four hours, I couldn't see the doctor," Harbhans Kaur, 74, told IANS.

"The OPD was closed and there was utter chaos everywhere. This is no way to protest... patients like me have to suffer for no fault," she said.

Sunita, 33, who had come from Uttar Pradesh, said: "I have severe chest pain and have been having problem in my spine too. But I couldn't even get inside the hospital."

Manish Gupta, whose elderly mother had suffered a hip fracture, was angry the way things were being handled by the hospital administration and the protesting students.

"I have been waiting here with my mother for hours. She is in pain but I can't do anything. This is not the way doctors or future doctors should behave... Why should the poor suffer?" he asked.

Medical Superintendent N.K. Mohanty promised the students that their demands would be fulfilled but the students were not impressed.

"We are not in a mood to give up. The college authorities have made such promises in the past too," Karan Vats, president of the Students' Welfare Association, told IANS.

The resident doctors have also threatened to join the strike.

"If they don't agree to our demands, we will join the strike," Chandra Bhan, president of the Resident Doctors' Association, told IANS.

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