Doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi and over 40,000 doctors in Maharashtra " who are a part of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) " went on a strike on Monday in solidarity with medicos across the country who are boycotting work to protest the violence against their fraternity following the attack on a medical intern in West Bengal's Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital.
The Resident Doctor's Association (RDA) of AIIMS, which had earlier decided to not participate in the strike, said in a statement that the resident doctors will withdraw elective services from 12 noon today till 6 am on Tuesday. However, emergency help such as casualty, ICU and labour room services will not be affected, the statement read.
The decision by AIIMS doctors was taken in an emergency meeting early on Monday and comes amid allegations that a junior resident doctor working in the emergency department of the Jai Prakash Narain Apex Trauma Centre (JPNATC) was abused by the relatives of a patient at around 1.30 am on Sunday for "performing his rightful duty of giving preferential care to a critical patient", the statement said.
"We remain dedicated to serving humanity to our fullest potential. The incident at the emergency department in the AIIMS trauma centre where a junior resident was assaulted for performing his rightful duty of giving preferential care to a critical patient, was efficiently managed with the support of AIIMS administration in letter and spirit," the RDA said. "This event made us rethink about the war-front like conditions faced by our fellow medicos elsewhere, where they are usually left alone to fight for their lives while saving those of the sick and even where the basic security measures like CCTV surveillance and special security deployment in emergency wards and ICU's are nonexistent," the statement added.
The association said it has decided to continue active association with the movement to ensure safety and security of doctors and it is essential that it materialises into legal concrete results of bringing a 'Central Act for Violence against Doctors' by the Government of India, which includes invoking stringent penal actions against the culprits. The association further urged the West Bengal administration to fulfill the demands of striking doctors and resolve the matter amicably at the earliest.
Meanwhile, over 40,000 doctors from various government and private hospitals in Maharashtra also boycotted OPD (Out-Patient Department) and other non-essential health services. "The OPD services have been suspended at various hospitals in support of the strike call," IMA Maharashtra's honorary secretary Dr Suhas Pingale told PTI.
IMA " the country's largest medical body " has urged for the formulation of a comprehensive law for the enactment of protection law for the doctors and amendment in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). It also wants security measures to be specified. "Exemplary punishment for perpetrators of violence should be a component of the central law and suitable amendments should be brought in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC)", the IMA said.
The medical body launched a four-day nationwide protest from Friday and wrote to Union home minister Amit Shah, demanding enactment of the central law to check violence against health care workers.
Meanwhile, the doctors' strike in West Bengal has entered its seventh day on Monday. Junior doctors in West Bengal are on strike since 11 June after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured allegedly by relatives of a patient who died at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata.
Protesting doctors have sought an "immediate end to this impasse" and agreed for talks with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. On Saturday, Mamata had accepted the doctors' demands and promised to not invoke the stringent Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) against them for not performing their duties and urged them to resume work immediately.
With inputs from agencies