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Maharashtra doctors vow to intensify strike

Over 2,500 doctors from 15 government-managed hospitals have stayed away from work since February 27.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2006 14:18 IST

Striking doctors of Maharashtra's government-run hospitals on Monday vowed to intensify their eight-day-old stir as authorities struggled to cope with the crumbling healthcare services in the state.

The doctors said they would appeal to their colleagues across the country to join them in their fight against low stipend and pathetic living and working conditions in hospitals.

The agitating doctors from 15 municipal hospitals in Mumbai and over half a dozen other cities in Maharashtra are also contemplating a legal battle with the state government for terminating their registrations.

Over 2,500 doctors from 15 government-managed hospitals have stayed away from work since February 27 demanding better security while on the job after relatives of a patient beat up a doctor.

Doctors of select municipal hospitals from several other cities in Maharashtra like Pune, Aurangabad, Sholapur and Nagpur have also joined the strike in solidarity.

"We have decided to intensify our agitation as the government is not showing willingness to resolve our problems," said an official of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) that is spearheading the strike.

"The authorities cannot force us to report back to work by adopting high-handed measures like cancelling registration of doctors and throwing them out of their hostels," he added.

The government has, so far, terminated the registration of 350 doctors for refusing to resume duty for defying state's ultimatum, said VL Patankar, additional municipal commissioner.

The government invoked the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act (MESMA) on Wednesday night and asked doctors to return to work at the earliest or face deregistration of their licenses.

Meanwhile, hundreds of patients continued to throng government-run hospitals across Mumbai as authorities struggled to cope with the emergency cases with the help of skeletal staff.

Scores of patients were seen lying in the corridors of various hospitals. They complained that hospitals were admitting only emergency cases while a large number of others were being turned away.

Patankar said the government had decided to take emergency measures like deploying doctors from private nursing homes and rural areas in the municipal hospitals in Mumbai to normalise the situation.

First Published: Mar 06, 2006 14:18 IST