Bringing relief to thousands of patients, the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) on Thursday assured the Bombay high court that their members will return to work today.
A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Girish Kulkarni said the resident doctors can amicably resolve the issue by talking to the government and asked them to return to work immediately.
Around 4,500 junior doctors in Maharashtra have been protesting for the past four days over a spate of attacks on them. They are demanding, among others, enhanced security in state-run hospitals.
The assurance from the MARD came after advocate general Rohit Deo informed the court that the government had decided to deploy 1,100 armed guards of Maharashtra State Security Corporation in government and civic hospitals across Maharashtra; and 500 of them will be posted in Mumbai by April 5.
He said the remaining 600 personnel will be deployed by April 30. These guards are conferred all necessary police powers, Deo said.
The court accepted this statement and asked the doctors to report to work.
“You (doctors) resume work and see if everything is done as assured by the government. We will hear the matter every fortnight and supervise the issue,” the judges said.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Afak Mandviya who complained about repeated strikes by doctors, paralysing health service and adversely affecting poor patients across the state.
Three rounds of meetings between the health minister and the representatives of MARD took place on Wednesday, Deo said. Doctors promised to resume duties, but only 92 of more than 3,500 resident doctors returned to work today, he said. Therefore, he requested the HC to direct the doctors to resume their duties immediately.
The court agreed with the view expressed by Deo. “Your profession is such that you cannot afford to go on a strike,” said the bench.
The HC on Tuesday slammed resident doctors and granted liberty to hospital managements to take action against them.
“You are not fit to be doctors,” said the same division bench. “You are fit to be an ordinary factory worker if you insist that you will not resume work until your demands are fulfilled,” the bench observed.
What doctors are demanding
Increase jail term of attackers from existing three years to seven years, under Doctors Protection Act, 2010
No bail for accused for at least three months
Form a medical committee to decide how serious a violation is
Enact a strict law to prevent trespassing in hospital
Consider it violation of law if a patient is accompanied by more than two relatives
Suspend security personnel if they fail to prevent an assault on doctors
Release funds to implement the law and appoint a brand ambassador to spread awareness for the safety and security of doctors