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Doctors’ protest hits medical services in some states, govt speaks to IMA

The doctor’s protest is over the National Medical Commission Bill, which seeks to replace the statutory body for medical education besides allowing practitioners of alternative medicines --- such as homoeopathy and Ayurveda to practice allopathy after completing a bridge course.

india Updated: Jan 02, 2018 14:11 IST
New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram
Doctors strike,Medical bill protests,Healthcare services
Doctors stage a protest in Delhi on Tuesday.(ANI Photo/Twitter)

Facilities at hospitals across the country were partially hit on Tuesday as thousands of doctors went on a strike to protest a bill seeking to replace the Medical Council of India with a new body, even as the government said that it would benefit the medical profession.

The National Medical Commission Bill, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha on Friday, seeks to replace the statutory body for medical education besides allowing practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and Ayurveda, to practice allopathy after completing a bridge course.

The 12-hour strike was called by the Indian Medical Association to protest the allegedly “undemocratic and bureaucrat ridden” bill slated to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Doctors at Kerala’s state-run medical colleges kept away from the outpatient department (OPD) for an hour from 8-9am and from 9am to 10am at state-run hospitals but the protests would continue till 6pm in many private hospitals. Emergency services were, however, not affected.

“We have been forced to protest as we have no other option,” the secretary of the IMA’s Kerala chapter N Sulphi told reporters.

HN Ravindra, the president of the IMA’s Karnataka chapter, said most of the private hospitals in the state would not operate their OPDs between 6am to 6pm on Tuesday.

“There has been a good response to our strike call from private hospitals where the OPDs will remain shut for 12 hours, though a few corporate hospitals in Bengaluru like Apollo, Fortis and Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) are functioning normally,” Ravindra told reporters.

However, the strike did not disrupt operations at Mumbai’s private hospitals. While some hospitals asked doctors to attend to patients with existing appointments, at other hospitals, only a few chose to remain absent from the OPDs. The emergency services went as scheduled.

Some hospitals in the city have also directed doctors to attend to patients who couldn’t be informed about the strike.

Union minister for health JP Nadda on Tuesday said he has spoken to the IMA and also put forth the government’s “perspective”.

“We have heard them ...,” Nadda said in Rajya Sabha during the Question Hour on the strike. “This is beneficial to the medical profession,” he said.

The IMA has said that the bill will “cripple” the functioning of medical professionals by making them completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators.

Former IMA president KK Agarwal said that the bill would open a gateway for future corruption.

“If the government still goes ahead and passes the bill, we will decide the further course of action. This bill gives gateway for future corruption,” Agarwal told ANI.

First Published: Jan 02, 2018 13:39 IST