In a hard hitting statement in the Maharashtra state assembly on Friday against doctors’ protesting and taking leave from work, Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said that doctors cannot hold patients hostage. “Enough is enough,” he said. “If doctors are continuing strike leaving patients to die, it shows high degree of insensitivity. It shows they forgot the pledge they take when joining the noble profession.” Fadnavis went on to say that the state government spent several lakhs of rupees form taxpayer’s money to provide students with medical education.
“Today those very people especially poor are being left to die. What kind of mindset is this,” he said. The chief minister also said that he had personally appealed to the doctors and accepted all their demands.
“Yesterday, Director General of Police visited all hospitals for a security audit. We have deployed 700 additional security persons for doctors protection. More efforts CCTVs will be installed,” he said.
He has warned the doctors that he will plead with them one last time because his concern are the helpless patients. “As the head of state, I am willing to plead with doctors with folded hands to get them back to work. But this will be the last time. After this it will be strict action. We cannot show any mercy nor forgive doctors who are leaving patients to die,” he said.
He also warned against organisations playing one another to push more demands at the cost of patients.
“I admit, doctors’ demands are not one time solution. There are forums and long lasting efforts to tackle their problems. However, if doctors leave patients to die, what is the difference between them and those mindless persons who assaulted them,” he said.
Fadnavis also condemned the attacks on the doctors and informed that an action against those who attacked the doctors has been initiated. “I have repeatedly said, attack against doctors is highly condemnable. Strict action against individuals who attack doctors has been initiated,” he said.
The cases of negligible offence against doctors for denying treatment to patients while on duties will have to be enforced, he said.
The Shiv Sena and BJP MLAs in the state assembly also urged government to take action against doctors who are on strike despite government accepting all their demands. They said the doctors are calling for strict action against them if innocent people are being denied treatment.
“If doctors are not going to listen to the Bombay High Court directives or even the government, and hold innocent people hostage by denying treatment, it calls for strict action,” Sena and BJP members said in assembly. The minister for medical and higher education, Girish Mahajan, expressed anguish and also helplessness. He said the doctors should end the strike because all their demands have been met and the finance department has also sanctioned Rs 33 crore for their security in two days.
“We have agreed to all ten demands made by MARD. We are providing 1100 guards to beef up security in all hospitals. Rs 33 crore has been sanctioned by finance department in two days. Yet, if the doctors are not willing to resume duties after Chief Minister’s appeal and HC directives and continue to cause inconvenience to people by denying medical treatment, we will be forced to initiate action,” he said.
Affected doctors, however, claim that these assurances are a “toy handed to crying children.”
Meanwhile, few private hospitals have also joined in the protest. 50 residents of KJ Somaiya College will go on strike on Friday.