Maharashtra government agrees to demands, but doctors continue protests
As more doctors across the state joined protests against attacks at hospitals, the Maharashtra government stepped in on Wednesday and warned of strict action — expulsion and a six-month salary cut — if the protests were not called off by 8pm.mumbai Updated: Mar 23, 2017 12:16 IST
As more doctors across the state joined protests against attacks at hospitals, the Maharashtra government stepped in on Wednesday and warned of strict action — expulsion and a six-month salary cut — if the protests were not called off by 8pm.
Well past the 8pm deadline, however, a majority of doctors were unrelenting, continuing the protests that has disrupted medical services across the state. Only a handful of doctors resumed duties. The government said it has now started collecting names of those still protesting, to initiate action against them.
Girish Mahajan, the state medical education minister, said the government has accepted the doctors’ demand of more security. Mahajan said the state will appoint 1,100 security guards at government-run hospitals and that he was confident the doctors would call off the protests.
“We had a positive discussion with representatives from the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD). The government has agreed to provide them security in the next 15 days, and they assured us the protests will be withdrawn,” Mahajan said.
“Patients are ultimately suffering. As we have assured the doctors in writing that we will accept their demands, we appealed to them to resume duty. If they decide to continue protesting, we will have no choice but to act by cutting six months’ salary,” Mahajan said.
Rajagopal Devara, secretary, medical education department said they have now started collecting data of the doctors who are still on strike. The state provides a stipend between Rs48,000 and Rs52,000 every month to resident doctors.
Devara said. “Once we cut their six months’ salary, their PG course will automatically be extended, as the rules require them to work for ten months at least,” Devara told HT.
Other measures the state promised include emergency alarms, a pass system for visitors and allowing only one visitor, Mahajan said. The government is also considering insurance cover to doctors against assault — one of the demands of the resident doctors.
Doctors’ groups across India declare support for protests
Doctor associations in various states have declared their support for the agitation by resident doctors in Maharashtra for a safe work environment. With a number of medical bodies set to join the striking doctors, medical services may be hit in various parts of the country.
A day after the Bombay HC criticised resident doctors for going on strike, state and civic officials served notices to them on Wednesday for not resuming duties. Reacting to this, the Indian Medical Association declared support to the doctors. IMA is the country’s largest body of doctors, with 40,000 members and more than three lakh branches across India — 206 in Maharashtra alone. “Cutting six months’ pay of doctors for protesting against attacks for three days is not at all justifiable. Our IMA bodies at Gujarat, Karnataka, Punjab and other states have expressed support in writing and there is a possibility they will hold a one-day token strike to support doctors under attack in Maharashtra,” said Dr Ashok Tambe, president of IMA, Maharashtra. Other medical bodies in the state, such as the Maharashtra Association of Practicing Pathologists and Maharashtra Teachers Association also declared unconditional support.
“Resident doctors have taken the step after waiting a full year, during which the state failed to provide safety. They are only demanding fundamental rights,” said a member of MTA. “We will treat emergency cases but no routine work will be done,” another member said. (Sadaguru Pandit)
First Published: Mar 23, 2017 00:30 IST