Doctors from government and private hospitals in Delhi are up in arms against the recent attack on two junior doctors in West Bengal, and have threatened to intensify the stir if demands of their colleagues in West Bengal are not met. Doctors in West Bengal have demanded Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s unconditional apology, and set six conditions for the state government before they withdraw their protest.
In Delhi, resident doctors from 14 government hospitals have announced a complete shutdown of OPD and OT services Saturday. On Friday, doctors from AIIMS, Safdarjung, Lok Nayak and GTB hospitals, along with several private hospitals, went on a day’s strike, leaving healthcare services crippled.
“The government should ensure safety of doctors across the country. If needed, CRPF should be deployed. We will support our fellow doctors in West Bengal. If needed, the protest will be intensified in the coming days,” said Dr Sumedh Sandanshiv, president of Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA), an umbrella body of resident doctors.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also launched a three-day nationwide protest and will wear black badges and carry out peace marches over the weekend. All non-essential services, including OPDs, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am Monday. “We have been demanding a central law against hospital violence. Safety and security in hospitals needs to be addressed with utmost priority,” said RV Asokan, secretary general of IMA.
The IMA has also written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers in hospitals. IMA said the law should have a provision for a minimum seven-year jail term for violators.
AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria also backed stringent laws. “What has happened in West Bengal and what is happening in the country in terms of violence against doctors is unacceptable. We should stand up against it and there is a need to develop a strategy. At the same time, we should also look at the responsibility towards patients and be helpful. One must strike a balance — there is a need to have strict laws and people responsible for such activities should be behind bars,” he said.
On Friday, resident doctors at AIIMS wore bandages on their face and body as they gathered at Jawaharlal Nehru auditorium and spoke about increasing cases of violence against doctors. “The government needs to step in and take control of the situation in West Bengal. If the situation remains the same, we will continue with the strike. We are not going to resume work till 9 am tomorrow,” said Dr Amarinder Singh Malhi, president of Resident Doctors’ Association of AIIMS.
The RDA also met the Union Health Minister requesting him to intervene.
A familiar pattern
Jan 2019: A resident doctor at Safdarjung Hospital was manhandled, allegedly by a Delhi Police head constable’s son, who had come to the hospital for treatment. Around 1,500 doctors from the hospital went on strike, demanding better security. Case under IPC sections 353/332/186/32 registered; constable transferred
April 2018: Resident doctors at AIIMS went on a three-day strike after a senior doctor allegedly slapped one of their colleagues in front of patients and other staff. The senior doctor, who heads a department at the premier institute, then tendered a written apology for assaulting the resident doctor and proceeded on leave
March 2018: Two doctors at Lok Nayak Hospital were beaten up allegedly by the family of a patient who came for treatment of gallbladder stones. Three people were sent to judicial custody under a non-bailable offence. Doctors were promised deployment of 50 marshals and 150 homeguards at the hospital
April 2017: More than 2,500 resident doctors from 12 government hospitals went on strike after a doctor and a guard were assaulted and abused allegedly by the attendants of a patient at Deen Dayal Upadhyay hospital
Feb 2017: Resident doctors at two government hospitals were physically assaulted, allegedly by a patient and her attendant, after which FORDA had announced an indefinite state-wide strike demanding better security. It was cancelled after FORDA received assurance from the principal health secretary that their demands were being looked into