The Indian Medical Association (IMA) Friday condemned the Mamata Banerjee-led government’s approach to the ongoing doctors’ protests in West Bengal and accused it of “escalating the issue instead of solving it”.
The country’s top medical body has called for a three-day nationwide protest on June 17.
“Hospitals are not war zones. Security has become a major issue. Instead of resolving the issue, the government is escalating it,” IMA General Secretary Dr R V Asokan told indianexpress.com.
The assault on two junior doctors over the death of a patient due to alleged negligence at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata Monday has turned the hospital premises into a protest zone.
In their demand for better security at hospitals, doctors and medical staff in the state and in several parts of the country have decided to hold demonstrations.
Questioning the state administration’s failure to guarantee protection to those in the medical fraternity, Asokan said, “We are asking for our basic right. We need to ensure the safety of our members. We demand a satisfactory resolution from the government in this regard.”
Asokan added that the demands of the agitating doctors are not difficult to be fulfilled. “The demands are doable. You can install CCTV cameras, restrict the entry of people in the hospital and adopt several such steps likewise,” he said.
The IMA official, however, said the onus to ensure safety of medical staffers does not solely lie with the state government but also with the Centre.
“Each time such an incident has occurred, we have reacted. But such instances continue to recur because there is no action from the Centre. In 2015, we had proposed a draft bill, seeking recommendations against three existing bills, but it has been five years now and that did not see the light of the day,” he said.
Asokan was referring to the National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, the Indian Medical Council (amendments) Bill, 2018, and the Consumer Protection Bill, 2018, which the IMA earlier claimed, has the “potential to change the profile of the medical profession and healthcare”.
Seeking equal response from the central government, the IMA general secretary said, “The Centre should introduce a law against such violence in hospitals and medical centres. It should take steps to declare hospitals as safe zones. There should be zero tolerance towards such violent attacks.”
He added, “It (protests) only shows the breakdown of law and order. There should be a structured definition of safety and security in medical institutes.”
Asked whether the agitation was turning political, Asokan said, “We are not targeting any government. All the doctors must be safe and have safe working environments.”
On reports of the death of a newborn child in Bengal amid the ongoing stir and halt of medical services, he reiterated, “We are asking for our basic right and the state is bound to provide us with one. Give us safety first and the remaining things will fall into place.”
In Bengal, more than 100 medical practitioners across state-run hospitals tendered their resignation, accusing the chief minister of failing to tackle the situation.
The Calcutta High Court Friday refused to pass an interim order on the ongoing strike and sought details of the steps taken by the Bengal government over the alleged attacks on doctors. It gave the government time till June 21 to file it’s response.