Delhi Docs Protest Against NMC Bill, Patients Affected Severely
The doctors will refrain from working in OPDs, emergency departments and ICUs as a mark of protest against the Bill.
Patients at several government hospitals in Delhi on Friday, 2 August continued to face hardships as resident doctors went on with their strike and withdrew all services in protest against the National Medical Commission Bill, even as Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan appealed to them to resume work.
The resident doctors' associations of AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, RML Hospital and those attached with the Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) and United Resident Doctors' Association (URDA) had boycotted work and held demonstrations on Thursday over the issue.
Patients at AIIMS, LNJP Hospital and several other facilities continued to face problems in accessing medical care, many of whom had come from neighbouring cities.
Patients Affected Severely
Poonam Rai, 50, a native of Uttar Pradesh, said she had brought her ill daughter to the capital on Thursday, 1 August and wanted to consult a doctor, but could not do so and was asked to visit later.
“After coming to Delhi, I realised there was a doctors’ strike. I don’t know how we will manage our stay here as we are putting up on the roadside pavement facing the hospital.”Poonam Rai, relative of patient
Resident doctors at Dr Hedgewar Aarogya Sansthan in east Delhi's Shahdara, which gets a lot of outstation patients, went on strike from Friday morning only.
"The resident doctors were not on strike yesterday, but from today morning they joined the strike, affecting services. Our OPD that gets a daily footfall of about 3,000 is closed and the emergency department is being handled by senior medical officers," a hospital official said.
Health Minister Appeals To Doctors
The Health Minister, meanwhile, appealed to the striking doctors to resume work, saying the bill was in the "interest" of the doctors and patients.
The health minister made the appeal during a meeting with a delegation of resident doctors from AIIMS and various other associations.
"I have explained to them that this historic bill is in the interest of doctors and patients. I have also addressed queries that they had on certain provisions of the bill.
“I also appealed to them to end their strike. I told them that there is no reason to strike. Doctors should not defy their duties towards patients.”Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister
What Are the Doctors Demanding?
FORDA general secretary Sunil Arora said the meeting was "not satisfactory" at least from the association's perspective.
“We demand that our concerns regarding role of community health providers (CHP) vis-a-vis a trained doctors, and the NEXT (National Exit Examination) be addressed.”Sunil Arora, FORDA general secretary
"Once it goes to the President for assent, we would urge him to send it back to the Lok Sabha for effecting the amendments our fraternity is seeking. A patient care should not given in the hand of quacks, so we are worried," he said.
Asked if the strike would be prolonged, Arora said a call would be taken after a meeting of the protesting doctors.
The fraternity claims that the Bill will encourage quackery.
Doctors are demanding certain amendments in the Bill. According to them, if not amended, the Bill will lead to deterioration of medical education and degradation of healthcare services.
They object to section 45 of the Bill, which, they claim, empowers the Union government to override any suggestion of the National Medical Commission.
"The autonomy and pride of the entire medical fraternity has been surrendered to the whims and fancies of politicians and bureaucrats even as the Union health minister is a doctor himself," AIIMS RDA president Amarinder Singh Malhi and president of its students' union Mukul Kumar had said in a joint statement.
Contingency Plan In Place
Hospitals in Delhi have put in place contingency plans as regular services were severely affected.
The emergency departments and ICUs at many hospitals were managed with the help of faculty members, sponsored residents, pool officers, faculty members of other medical or surgical departments, while OPDs, radio-diagnosis and laboratory diagnosis services functioned on a "restricted basis" in some health facilities and shut at many other places.
Routine surgeries were cancelled and only emergency cases were being performed at several facilities, authorities said.
What Does The Bill Say?
The Bill, which seeks to replace the graft-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI), was passed by the Lok Sabha on 29 July, even as thousands of doctors across the country protested against it.
The Bill provides for the setting up of a National Medical Commission in place of the MCI for the development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions.
(Edited for clarity)
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