Mumbai (The Hindu): The nearly 100-hour-long mass leave of resident doctors, which crippled public health services across the State, ended with majority of them resuming duty on Friday midnight.
Dr. Avinash Supe, Dean of KEM Hospital, said all the residents in the hospital have started signing the attendance muster. “Strike has been called off.”
The day saw back-to-back meetings with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who at first met representatives of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and later the residents doctors. While IMA was prompt in taking back its agitation after the CM assured to give in to their demands, the residents doctors remained reluctant. At the time of going to press, more than 500 out of the 2,000-odd resident doctors had resumed duty in various public hospitals in the city.
On Friday, police vans were deployed in all hospitals till the armed security personnel promised by the State were hired. Security checks were carried out at the entry points in all hospitals. “We have received some additional security guards to man the campus. Till the armed security personnel join, we will have the police vans, each one consisting of more than 10 policemen,” said Dr. Ramesh Bharmal, Dean of Nair Hospital, adding that 10-odd residents out of the overall 629 had joined duty.
The State on Friday sanctioned 1,100 guards from the Maharashtra State Security Corporation, who boast of police-like powers to make arrests and use a weapon to discharge their duty. The first lot of 700 guards will join in the next five days.
“The meeting with the CM went well. And it reflected that measures have been initiated. That is the reason why we decided to call off our strike that we had started on Thursday,” said Dr. Parthiv Sanghvi, State secretary of IMA.
In a brief relief to patients, soon after IMA’s call, the private outpatient departments resumed work in the evening.
But the resident doctors are against following in IMA footsteps. A breakaway from MARD and IMA is visible. “This is for the first time that our mass leave was not called by IMA or MARD. We have taken our decisions on individual level,” said a resident doctor. The divide between a majority of doctors and IMA and MARD led to a chaos on the State government’s end as well. They are unsure about which representatives to pacify.
But after the High Court order to resume work, some resident doctors joined duty. Till late at night, 233 residents doctors had joined work in peripheral hospitals, six joined in Nair, 35 joined in KEM and Sion hospitals. “We have tried our best to convince the resident doctors. But they were adamant,” said an IMA member, adding that the body had supported the resident doctors only because their demands were legitimate. “But now the State has shown some response and the court has asked for compliance reports as well. So we had to call it off.”
Dr. Pravin Shingare, head of Directorate of Medical Education and Research, said, “We have had a meeting the residents doctors and we are in process of giving the minutes to them. They will decide to join after that.”
CM takes harsh stand
Earlier in the day, the CM said he was done with the doctors’ attitude. Making a statement in the Assembly, Mr. Fadnavis said, “Enough is enough. If the doctors fail to resume work today, the government will not sit quietly. We cannot leave the patients to die. I am making a final attempt to break the deadlock today by meeting the doctors’ representatives. If no solution is found and the doctors don’t resume work, they should be prepared to face legal action.”
Terming the attitude of doctors insensitive, Mr. Fadnavis said, “What is the difference between anti-social elements who beat up doctors and the doctors themselves who take oath to treat ill people. I am surprised at the adamant stand of the doctors despite assuring that the government supports their demands.” The doctors have disregarded the directives of the High Court. People treat doctors as god, he said. “They shouldn’t wait to be referred to as demons. What kind of politics is being done?"
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