The Karnataka government stared at a crisis on Thursday after 22,000 doctors across 600 private hospitals launched an indefinite strike against some provisions of the Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill. They demanded that the Siddaramaiah government drop at least four contentious proposals in the bill.
Most of the out patient departments (OPD) were non-functional, but ANI reported that the hospitals would continue to provide emergency services. The move will surely overburden state-run hospitals if a compromise is not reached at the earliest.
The demonstration comes on the backdrop of a similar protest on November 3, when at least 50,000 doctors from across Karnataka had ‘abstained from duties’ for 24 hours.
“Given the discussions that we had with CM Siddaramaiah, we are clear he is going to take an appropriate and responsible decision,” Dr Jayanna, president of Private Hospitals & Nursing Homes Association, said on Thursday.
Seeking to douse the situation and placate the agitating doctors, the CM said he would soon convene a meeting. “I will call them and discuss the matter,” ANI quoted Siddaramaiah as saying.
The Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017, was passed with the aim of regulating private sector medical establishments and prescribes fixed prices for treatment and makes those doctors who charge excess fees, liable for stringent punishment.
The Indian Medical Association’s Karnataka unit president H N Ravindra and other senior doctors in the state have described the proposed law as being “draconian.” The contention of the private hospitals is that the state should focus on lifting the standards of care at government hospitals before attempting to regulate their clinics.