West Bengal doctors withdraw protest after meeting with Mamata
In over a dozen states across the country, over 50,000 doctors have participated in the nationwide strike on June 17.
The strike called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) was called off today after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accepted the proposal to set up Grievance Redressal Cell in Government Hospitals.
Earlier, on June 16, the IMA said it will go ahead with its nation-wide strike on June 17. This resulted in the withdrawal of non-essential health services across the country. The IMA protested against the assault on two doctors in West Bengal on June 11.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on June 15 asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from various forms of violence. In a statement, the IMA demanded a comprehensive central law -- addressing security measures -- be formed to protect doctors and other professionals in hospitals.
Is there a law in place?
At least 19 states -- including West Bengal -- have passed the Protection of Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions Act, also known as the Medical Protection Act (MPA). Since this Act neither features in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), it makes it difficult for victims to file a complaint against suspects.
The IMA announced that all non-essential services, including outdoor patient department (OPD) services will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 a.m. on June 17 to 6 a.m. on June 18.
Where did the doctors go on strike?
In Maharashtra, over 40,000 doctors and other medical practitioners participated in the strike. IMA Maharashtra's honorary secretary, Dr Suhas Pingale told PTI, “The OPD services have been suspended at various hospitals in support of the strike call.”
In Goa, doctors participated in a silent protest march. Shekhar Salkar, the former chief of Indian Medical Association (IMA) said, "Doctors were striking work in the coastal state to express solidarity with their colleagues who were recently attacked in West Bengal."
In Tamil Nadu, Doctors formed human chains, wore black badges and helmets. "Only emergency services are available today and outpatient services were suspended in 6,500 hospitals and clinics (in private sector) across Tamil Nadu," said S Kanasabhapathy, state president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
After a three-hour meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, protesting doctors in West Bengal agreed to withdraw their week-long stir.