Medical services in Kerala continued to be hit on Monday due to the ongoing strike by government doctors, even as the CPI(M)-led LDF government warned that action will be taken if the stir was not withdrawn immediately. Health minister, K K Shylaja, said government would hold talks with the doctors only after the strike was called off.
Government doctors in Kerala launched an indefinite stir on April 13, protesting the suspension of a doctor at a health centre at Palakkad and extension of out-patient (OP) time.
The services of post-graduate doctors and house surgeons are being used by the government to attend to patients visiting OPs. Medical college hospitals are not participating in the strike.
“We are coming to government hospitals from far-off places getting into four buses as we cannot afford to go to private hospitals. The strike is not against the government, but against the poor people,” a patient said.
Describing the strike as ‘illegal’, the health minister warned that the government would be forced to take action against the doctors. “We are not for declaring a war with the doctors. They have gone on strike without giving notice,” she said.
While pointing out that the government was not adamant, she said their only condition was the strike should be withdrawn first, only after which any discussions will be held.
The doctors had challenged the patients by going on an agitation, she said. “There was no reason for them to launch the agitation, and denying treatment to patients was unfair,” she told reporters here.
She also said probationary doctors should immediately join duty, failing which action would be launched against them.
The Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) should not force them to continue with the strike, she said adding the government will begin collecting from today details of probationers, who were participating in the strike.
The minister also said there are about 4,000 doctors in the list of Public Service Commission (PSC) and government had sought details. The attempt was to defeat the government’s ‘Ardram Mission’ which envisages basic facilities to all hospitals in the State and making government hospitals patient-friendly, she said.
As part of the mission, primary health centres are being converted to family health centres to provide a comprehensive health facilities to people.
Meanwhile, KGMOA said if the government goes ahead with retaliatory steps, the association will also be forced to take stern measures. The association has called for an urgent meeting here tomorrow to discuss the further course of action.
The doctors have made it clear that only the casualty wing would function during the strike and in-patient treatment would be provided only till April 18. There would not be any new admissions and only emergency operations would be performed.
The Kerala Human Rights Commission has asked the the government to take immediate steps to resolve the issue as it was the common people who were facing hardships. Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, today said the government should immediately hold talks with the striking doctors to end the impasse.