Thousands of doctors skipped work on Monday because of unsafe work conditions after three of their colleagues were assaulted in West Bengal. This has paralyzed the health facilities across the country.
Doctors of state-run medical colleges and hospitals in West Bengal are already protesting since last week. They will meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday to put across their demands for better security. 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.
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.
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 fulfill 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.
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.
However, IMA 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.
‘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 counseling 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.