Thousands of doctors skipped work on Monday against unsafe conditions at work after three of their colleagues were assaulted in West Bengal last week, paralysing health facilities across the country.
The strike was called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) after at least three junior doctors were attacked by the family of a patient, who died at Kolkata’s NRS Medical College last week. Doctors of state-run medical colleges and hospitals in West Bengal are already protesting since last week and will meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday to put across their demands for better security.
Officials have said Mamata Banerjee may hold a meeting with the agitating doctors at the state secretariat at 3pm on Monday. Health care services continue to remain affected in the emergency wards, outdoor facilities and pathological units of many state-run hospitals and private medical facilities in West Bengal on Monday, the seventh day of the strike in the eastern state.
The top medical body said all non-essential services, including outdoor patient department (OPD) services, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6am on Monday to 6am on Tuesday. Emergency and casualty services will continue to function, it said.
Doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi took out a protest march on Monday and will go on a strike from 12pm till 6am on Tuesday in support of their protesting colleagues in West Bengal. Emergency services including casualty, ICU and labour room will function as usual.
“We once again urge the West Bengal administration to fulfil the demands of the striking doctors and resolve the matter amicably at the earliest in the best interest of the general public,” the AIIMS Resident Doctors Association (RDA) said in a statement.
It said a meeting of its general body will be held at 6pm to decide the further course of action.
Doctors in several other states like Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tripura also striking.
IMA had launched a four-day nationwide protest from Friday and wrote to Union home minister Amit Shah demanding a central law to check violence against healthcare workers.
Its announcement for a strike on Sunday came a day after Union health minister Harsh Vardhan asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence.
IMA, however, demanded a comprehensive central law to deal with violence on doctors and healthcare staff, and in hospitals. Security measures and the determinants leading to violence should also be addressed, it said in a statement.
Exemplary punishment for perpetrators of violence should be a component of the central law and suitable amendments should be brought in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), IMA said.
IMA said in its statement that effective implementation of the central law has to be ensured by incorporating suitable clauses. Structured safety measures, including three-layer security, CCTV cameras and restriction of entry of visitors should be well defined and enforced uniformly across the country in all sectors, it said.
“Healthcare violence has its origin in high expectations, lack of infrastructure and inadequate human resources. Issues of medical profession involving a doctor-patient relationship, effective communication regarding the nature of illness and professional counselling play a part as well,” IMA said in the statement.
“The IMA expects the government of India to provide for each of these components.”
Doctors at the Centre-run Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital and RML Hospital and Delhi government’s healthcare facilities such as GTB Hospital, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital and DDU Hospital, boycotted work and held protests on Saturday. However, emergency and intensive care units were not affected in these hospitals.
Resident doctors of AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital, who resumed work after a boycott on Friday, gave a 48-hour ultimatum to Mamata Banerjee on Saturday to meet the demands of the state’s agitating doctors, failing which they said they would go on an indefinite strike.
They attended patients wearing helmets and bandages on their foreheads as a sign of protest.
(With agency inputs)
Jun 17, 2019 08:45 IST
Doctors on nationwide strike today in support of Bengal stir, demand law for protecting medicos – Hindustan Times