More doctors set to join stir today, OPDs to be affected
Unions said doctors will not carry out work in any department, unlike in most such agitations when those attending to critical care services continue working. The strike may be extended beyond Thursday, they warned.Updated: Aug 01, 2019 18:32 IST
Government-run health facilities, including emergency services and in-patient surgeries, are likely to be severely disrupted in the national capital Thursday onwards after union representing junior doctors said they will widen a protest against the National Medical Commission (NMC) bill, a new law meant to regulate the medical industry.
Unions said doctors will not carry out work in any department, unlike in most such agitations when those attending to critical care services continue working. The strike may be extended beyond Thursday, they warned.
“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.
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At least 50,000 people are treated in the out-patient department (OPD) clinics of government hospitals, and roughly 40% of them are patients from outside of Delhi where they lack access to adequate medical services.
The expected disruptions are feared to be as serious as the strike in mid-June to protest attacks on doctors. That episode prompted the government to form a committee to draft a central law to prevent violence against medical professionals.
“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 We have decided to go on an indefinite strike from tomorrow; resident doctors will be withdrawn from all services, including the emergency departments.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.
Hospitals in Delhi will deploy senior doctors to run some services, but that is unlikely to be enough to cope with the shortfall. At AIIMS, New Delhi, OPDs will be restricted to those who have prior appointment or are follow-up patients, while emergency consultations and surgeries will be performed by senior faculty members. Diagnostic services will also be restricted, according to the hospital administration.
Resident doctors from other states too have decided to strike work. “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.
On Wednesday, a nation-wide strike was called by the Indian Medical Association against the NMC bill, but it did not yield a strong response.
“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.
Doctors are opposing several provisions of the NMC bill, such as the proposal for 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.
The doctors also say Section 45 of the bill also threatens the autonomy of the NMC by allowing the central government to override any recommendations or suggestions by the commission and by keeping the power to issue 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.
First Published: Aug 01, 2019 12:18 IST