Andhra Pradesh on Monday decided to issue an ordinance providing security to hospital staff and treating attacks on them as non-bailable offences attracting up to three years imprisonment.
The decision, taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, came in the backdrop of recent attacks on doctors by the public and some MLAs belonging to the Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen (MIM) party, prompting medicos to go on strike.
Bowing to the demand by protesting junior doctors, the government decided to promulgate the ordinance, said Information Minister A Rama Narayana Reddy. In case of damage to property, twice the cost of damaged properties will be recovered from the attackers, he said.
The AP Medical Service Persons/Medical Institutions (Prevention of violence and Damage to Properties) Ordinance, 2007, will be applicable to both government and private hospitals, nursing homes and maternity clinics and cover doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, medical and nursing staff, Reddy said. The junior doctors and post-graduate students working in teaching hospitals will henceforth be treated as public servants.
The government has also decided to set up a grievance redressal authority in all government hospitals to look into the complaints of medical negligence and grievances of the public.
The cabinet decision came hours after government doctors in teaching hospitals struck work, joining their junior colleagues who went on strike on Friday to protest against the attack on a lady house surgeon at Government Maternity Hospital, Nayapul, by relatives of an undertrial prisoner.