They resign en masse in Bengal; IMA calls for countrywide strike on June 17
In what threatened to bring Bengal’s health services to a standstill, hundreds of senior Government doctors on Friday started tendering mass resignations in support of their junior colleagues even as the Indian Medical Association (IMA), in solidarity with the protesting doctors, has called for a countrywide strike on June 17.
Doctors in Kolkata, who have been on strike for the last four days over the assault of their colleague, on Friday set six conditions, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s unconditional apology, to withdraw their protest. “We want unconditional apology of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the manner in which she had addressed us at the SSKM Hospital yesterday. She should not have said what she had,” a spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors, Dr Arindam Dutta, said.
Meanwhile in an attempt to solve the impasse, five senior doctors met Mamata on Friday evening. The physicians said Mamata has invited the junior doctors to the State Secretariat on Saturday for a discussion over the issue. However, the junior medicos turned down Mamata’s offer.
The protesting doctors in Bengal are demanding “adequate infrastructure and protection against ‘hooligans’ on hospital premises.”
The apex body of doctors in the country also renewed its demand for a Central law to check violence against healthcare workers in hospitals and said that the law should provide a minimum sentence of seven-year jail to violators.
The IMA has also decided to continue their protest on Saturday and Sunday condemning the continued suffering of the resident doctors and repeated occurrence of harassments. These protests will include wearing black badges, dharnas, peace marches. IMA has requested the support from all associations of the fraternity to join the protest.
“IMA condemns the recent incident of violence against Dr Paribaha Mukherjee, who was brutally attacked by a violent mob at NRS Medical College, Kolkata, and demands an exemplary action by the State Government. All the legitimate demands of the resident doctors in West Bengal should be accepted unconditionally,” RV Asokan, Secretary General of IMA, said.
The IMA called for a “nationwide withdrawal of non-essential services in all healthcare institutions” on Monday. All non-essential services including OPDs will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am, while emergency and causality services will continue to function.
Meanwhile in Kolkata, more than 1,000 doctors of the RG Kar Medical College put in their papers. A letter signed by 126 doctors and addressed to the Director of Medical Education said, “We the following doctors of RG Kar Medical College have so far been trying our level best to run the hospital services smoothly. You are aware that the present situation is not ideal for patient care services. In response to the prevailing situation as we are unable to provide services, the following doctors would like to resign from our duty.”
Following the suit, about 100 senior doctors, including specialists from the Postgraduate SSKM Hospital, tendered their resignation, Health Ministry sources said adding about 175 senior doctors of NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the agitation, too resigned.
About 100 doctors from Murshidabad Medical College and North Bengal Medical College had also put in their papers, sources said, adding doctors of Alipurduar district hospital, Burdwan Medical College and National Medical College had also offered to resign should the impasse continue.
What started on Monday from NRSMC — where two junior doctors were badly injured after being brutally beaten up by the members of patients’ party — threatened to take the shape of a mass movement with thousands of people from all walks of life including lawyers, artists, members of civil society and common man on Friday joining the doctors in a long march in demand of an early solution to the crisis.
“The doctors are not demanding heaven. They are only asking for protection and adequate infrastructure which is quite a justified demand. The Chief Minister should look into it sympathetically and open a dialogue with the protesters,” said Aparna Sen who also joined the rally along with social activist Vinayak Sen, senior advocate Bikash Bhattacharya, actor Kaushik Sen, artist Samir Aich and others.
Things turned for the worse on Thursday when Mamata Banerjee publicly threatened the agitating doctors with administrative action if they do not return to their work. “Instead of looking at the issue with sympathy she tried to rebuke us into submission,” doctor AN Sarkar said adding “the agitation will not end until she personally comes and inspects the situation and tenders an unconditional apology.”
Making an appeal to the doctors to resume work, State BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Friday said, “We have full sympathy for the doctors and we back their cause. But they also have to consider the importance of the noble profession they are into. So I appeal to them to return to their work for the sake of the thousands of poor people who are suffering every day,” he said.
Meanwhile, another junior doctor sitting on a protest outside the Kolkata National Medical College and Hospital was on Friday evening attacked by some miscreants. Curiously NRS and KNMCH are good five kilometer apart.
“Abhishek Sahoo a fourth year resident doctor received head injuries and is undergoing treatment,” said one of his colleagues.
Saturday, 15 June 2019 | Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata
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