Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has written to chief ministers of all states asking them to bring legislation to protect doctors, and to ensure it is implemented in states where such a law is already in place.
He circulated copi to states.es of the draft Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017,
“Resident doctors in many parts of the country are agitating and not providing healthcare services. Agitations by doctors in West Bengal seem to be getting aggravated and taking shape of strike by both Government and Private sector doctors, all over the country,” he wrote. Representatives from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Delhi Medical Association (DMA) also called on him on Saturday.
Stressing the need to avoid such incidents, the minister said that law enforcement should prevail so that doctors and clinical establishments discharge their duties without fear of violence. “Strict action against any person who assaults them must be ensured by the law enforcement agencies,” he wrote.
Harsh Vardhan also wrote to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee advising “better communication and a compassionate approach” in dealing with the impasse.
In his letter to the chief ministers, Harsh Vardhan cited a letter (dated July 7, 2017) sent by the Union Health Ministry to all chief secretaries of states which contained the decision taken by an inter-ministerial committee constituted under Ministry of Health to review issues raised by the Indian Medical Association. The committee, in its report, recommended that the Health Ministry suggest to all state governments which do not have specific legislation to protect doctors and health professionals to consider one to strictly enforce the provisions of special legislation wherever they exist or enforce the IPC/Cr.PC provisions with vigour.
“The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has raised this concern many a time. Since ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects, Government of India, on many occasions has drawn attention of State Governments for an urgent need for a robust criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention and control of crime,” Dr Harsh Vardhan wrote.
On Friday the minister met a delegation of Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, United Resident & Doctors Association of India (URDA) and Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA), who gave a representation to him on the violence against doctors in West Bengal. He had assured them his support and cooperation.