Resident doctors at several government hospitals, including AIIMS and Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, in Delhi held demonstrations and withdrew all services including that at emergency departments to protest against the National Medical Commission Bill tabled in Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Scores of doctors boycotted work, held marches and raised slogans against the bill, alleging it was “anti-poor, anti-student and undemocratic”.
Intensifying its protests against the NMC Bill, the resident doctors at AIIMS will hold a demonstration Thursday and march towards Parliament in the afternoon. Some other hospitals in Delhi have also given notices to the respective administrations regarding the strike.
The new Bill has the provision for making national standards in medical education uniform by proposing that the final year MBBS exam be treated as an entrance test for PG and a screening test for students who graduated in medicine from foreign countries. This exam will be called the National Exit Test (NEXT). The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Monday amid an ongoing protest from the medical fraternity across the country.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), which had expressed reservations over several sections of the bill, had given a call for a 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services on Wednesday across the country. It had warned in a statement that it will intensify the agitation if the government continues to be “indifferent to our concerns”.
The impact was felt in West Bengal, where healthcare services were crippled in most state-run hospitals as doctors stayed away from work on Wednesday in response to a 24-hour strike called by the IMA. At many hospitals, doctors wore black badges. Several health facilities across the country responded to it including states like Gujarat, Rajasthan. More than 28,000 doctors in Gujarat joined the protest.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in a tweet on Wednesday said he would table the NMC bill in Rajya Sabha Thursday, saying that the “historic” bill, if passed, would bring “mega changes in the medical education sector”.
Following the strike notice, several hospital authorities have put in place contingency plans for the smooth functioning of healthcare services as a part of which emergency services will function with the help of sponsored residents/pool officers and faculty members.