Doctors strike: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan writes to all CMs; seeks law for doctor’s safety

New Delhi: A day after resident doctors across the country started a solidarity strike to support their colleagues who were beaten up in Kolkata’s NRS Hospital,Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan urged states to consider enacting “specific law” to protect doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence.

In a letter to all the chief ministers, the health minister attached a copy of the Draft Act provided by IMA –the Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017, drawing their attention for strict action against any person who assaults doctors.

The move comes as Indian Medical Association urged doctors across the country to protest in solidarity with the injured doctors at NRS hospital and also the overall rising assault on doctors pan India.

The IMA has also written to the Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers in hospitals.

The apex doctors body has called for a nationwide strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services. In the letter to the CMs Harsh Vardhan raised concern over the recent act of violence against doctors.

He stated the incidents of assault on doctors are reported from different parts of the country and this leads to sudden strike by doctors, gravely affecting the healthcare services.

“Resident doctors in many parts of the country are agitating and not providing healthcare services. Agitations by doctors in West Bengal seem to be getting aggravated and taking shape of strike by both government and private sector doctors, all over the country,” the minister said in the letter.

Emphasisng that there was a need for the authorities to ensure such incidents do not happen in future, Harsh Vardhan said that law enforcement should prevail so that doctors and clinical establishments discharge their duties and professional pursuit without fear of any violence.

“Strict action against any person who assaults them, must be ensured by the law enforcement agencies,” he emphasised. Vardhan said doctors form an important pillar of society and often work under stressful and difficult conditions.

“Our doctors rank among the best in the world and work for long hours under stressful conditions, grappling with a huge load of patients. It is the duty of State to ensure safety and security of doctors who assure that the healthcare needs of the society are met,” he highlighted.

On Friday, while reviewing the situation, Vardhan had met a delegation of Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, United Resident abd Doctors Association of India (URDA) and Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA), who gave a representation to him on the violence against doctors in West Bengal. He had assured them his support and cooperation.

He also wrote to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday in this matter. The protest on Friday was carried on nationwide, crippling the patient care. However, the emergency services were functional considering the serious trauma cases.

Around 4,500 resident doctors in Maharashtra, including some 2,800 in Mumbai, went on a one-day strike.
The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) had declared that junior doctors at government hospitals in the state will not perform surgeries or attend to out-patient departments (OPDs) between 8 am and 5 pm Friday.
In Hyderabad and other places in Telangana, Junior doctors staged protests against the assault at major state-run hospitals, including Gandhi hospital and Osamania General hospital in the
city.

In Jaipur, doctors at the SMS government hospital wore black bands and helmets to express solidarity with their protesting colleagues in West Bengal. Doctors from other districts of Rajasthan also took part in the token protest, according to a report.

In Raipur, around 400 junior doctors of Dr B R Ambedkar Memorial Hospital, Raipur – the biggest government hospital in the state – staged a protest from 8 am to 2 pm in premises of the medical facility.

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