Mumbai (The Hindu): Talks with State government fail; strike continues as resident doctors demand on-ground changes, not just verbal assurances
In a massive blow to the State authorities negotiating with the resident doctors on mass leave, more than 40,000 senior doctors from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) joined the protest on Wednesday. The IMA members called for an Out Patient Department (OPD) bandh on Thursday, which is likely to cripple private health services as well.
On Wednesday, negotiations between the residents doctors and Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan went on till 9 p.m. However, the talks failed and the doctors decided to to continue to abstain from work. “Individually, if any resident doctor wants to join back, he or she can do it. But largely, we continue to be on mass leave till we see that the security [arrangements have] been enhanced as per our demands. This time, we don’t want the plan to get stuck in the bureaucratic ways again and wait till another doctor is beaten up black and blue,” said a resident doctor from KEM Hospital.
Talks about resident doctors in Delhi going on a token strike for a day were also on till late in the night.
According to IMA member Dr. Shivkumar Utture, the demand made by doctors is not unreasonable at all. “They are asking for better security, and this can be implemented on an immediate basis. There is no reason why the government should delay it,” Dr. Utture said, adding that all of IMA’s 40,000 members in the State will join the mass leave with support from other associations like the Association of Medical Consultants, General Practitioners Association, and Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI). “All these doctors attached [to hospitals] in the private sector will not carry out their routine OPDs; they will only cater to emergencies,” he said.
Doctors served notices
The negotiations of the State government involved mostly threatening the doctors instead of fast-tracking the implementation of security. According to IMA member Dr. Jayesh Lele, threatening to suspend and cut salaries is a very easy way out. “The main issue of securing hospitals is being ignored here,” he said, adding that the IMA has requested all doctors to participate in the mass leave.
In Mumbai, over 1,500 show cause notices were issued to doctors in civic hospitals. “We have issued 524 show cause notices in KEM, 600 in Sion and 368 in Nair hospitals,”said Dr. Avinash Supe, dean of the civic-body-run KEM hospital. He added that the resident doctors have been assured that at least 500 security guards from the Maharashtra State Security Corporation will be hired within a week’s time. “There is no reason why they should continue the strike as we have given them an assurance already,” Dr. Supe said.
In the state-run hospitals in Mumbai, including the JJ, St George, GT and Cama hospitals, 392 doctors were served show cause notices. Of these, hospitals authorities said that 92 residents had resumed work.
The government also said that resident doctors who don’t resume work will stand to lose six months’ salary. “The meeting with Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan focused on verbal assurances. We will not join work till we see changes on the ground,” said a resident doctor from Sion Hospital.
Another case of assault
Around 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday, speciality medical officer Dr. Mansi Patil, who was in the paediatric ward of the Sion Hospital, was allegedly assaulted by the mother of a child brought in for treatment. “The relatives hit the doctor on her arm,” said one doctor.
Deputy commissioner of police (Zone 4) N. Ambika said they are still verifying the complaint. “The policemen are on the premises. They are talking to the doctor and the relative to find out what exactly happened,” Ms. Ambika told The Hindu.
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