For the third consecutive day, resident doctors of two Centre-run government hospitals in the capital, AIIMS and Safdarjung, continued to boycott work Saturday in protest against the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill. The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare, meanwhile, warned of punitive action like termination of service if they do not join work immediately.
Following the ministry’s directions, administrations of both hospitals issued memorandums to resident doctors to resume work at their respective departments.
At AIIMS, resident doctors resumed emergency services around midnight but non-essential services, including OPD, remained suspended. At Safdarjung Hospital, doctors did not join duty in any department, including the emergency ward.
“All members of the RDA and students’ union are hereby directed to resume duties in their respective departments with immediate effect, failing which strict disciplinary action like suspension/termination of services, vacation of hostel accommodation, etc may be taken,” the AIIMS administration said in the memorandum.
Late Friday night, doctors said they were resuming emergency services at AIIMS and all hospitals under the umbrella of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA). However, the RDA of Safdarjung Hospital did not call off the strike.
On Saturday, following the Health Ministry’s warning, heavy police deployment was seen outside AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital to maintain order.
The NMC Bill seeks to replace the graft-tainted Medical Council of India and proposes a common final-year MBBS examination, to be known as the National Exit Test (NEXT), for admission to post-graduate medical courses and for obtaining a licence to practise medicine.
Doctors have demanded amendments to the Bill, claiming it will otherwise lead to deterioration of medical education and the degradation of healthcare services. They claim that several sections of the Bill encourages quackery, by allowing persons other than those who possess MBBS degrees to practice modern medicine.