Strike in Delhi’s govt hospitals as 20,000 junior doctors protest NMC bill
Routine OPD clinics, surgeries and emergency services are likely to be affected in Delhi on Thursday, with nearly 20,000 junior doctors and medical students striking work across all government hospitals.
The doctors are protesting the National Medical Commission bill, which will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. This comes a day after the nation-wide strike call by the Indian Medical Association against the provisions of the bill. The strike was a damp squib in Delhi, with none of the government hospitals and most of the private hospitals not participating.
“Around 20,000 resident doctors and medical students from all government hospitals and medical colleges in Delhi will strike work from tomorrow,” said Dr Rajeev Ranjan, general secretary of the resident doctors’ association from All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
More than 50,000 people are treated in the out-patient clinics of various government hospitals in Delhi every day. Around 40% of these patients travel from neighbouring states for treatment.
On Thursday, hospitals in Delhi will be able to run some services with the help of senior faculty members. At AIIMS, the OPD will be restricted to those who have prior appointment or are follow-up patients and emergency consultations and surgeries will be performed by the faculty members. The diagnostic services will also be restricted, according to the hospital administration.
“The NMC bill in its current form is unacceptable. We have decided to go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow; resident doctors will be withdrawn from all services, including the emergency departments. We will continue the strike if the government pushes through with the bill in the current form,” said Dr Sumedh Sandanshiv, president of the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association.
Resident doctors from other states have also decided to strike work along with FORDA, AIIMS resident doctors’ association, and United resident and doctors association.
“Across the country, nearly 5 lakh resident doctors and medical students will be on strike tomorrow. We have already received letters of support from five medical colleges in Rajasthan, AIIMS Patna, AIIMS Rishikesh, and AIIMS Bhopal, a few medical colleges from Madhya Pradesh and Punjab,” said Dr Ranjan.
“It is true that the effect of the strike is partial in Delhi, but this activity is focussed across our state branches. Across India we have received good support for the strike, especially from Kerala Chhattisgarh, Bihar Maharashtra. PGI Chandigarh has also decided to join the strike,” said Dr RV Asokan, secretary general of IMA.
The key contention against the bill is that it proposes a common exam — National Exit Test (NEXT) —as the final year exam for the undergraduate course, a licentiate exam for a career in medicine, as an entrance test for postgraduate courses, and a screening test for students graduating from foreign countries.
Section 45 of the bill also threatens the autonomy of the NMC, the doctors say. It allows the Central government to override any recommendations or suggestions by the NMC and give directions to the NMC and the autonomous boards regarding policy matters.The doctors are also concerned about the reduction in the number of elected representatives from 75% in the Medical Council of India to 20% in NMC.
Fee regulation for about 50% of seats is also being resisted. “It will promote corruption in the long run. Why only 50% seats should be regulated in private medical colleges and deemed universities when earlier it was 85% by the state government,” said Asokan.