OPDs to Remain Shut on 31 July as Doctors Protest Against NMC Bill

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for a nationwide 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services.

Updated31 Jul 2019, 01:40 PM IST
3 min read

OPDs in government hospitals across the country will remain shut on Wednesday, 31 July, as part of protests against the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill which doctors say will encourage ‘quacks’.

As a mark of protesting against the Bill which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for a nationwide 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services.

Demonstrations and hunger strikes will be held in all states. The IMA has asked medical students to boycott classes in solidarity.

The Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) and the Resident Doctors Association (RDA), AIIMS, have asked members to wear black badges.

"The Bill, if not amended, will only lead to a deterioration in the standards in medical education but will also lead to degradation of healthcare services," an RDA statement said.

The non-essential services including OPDs will remain shut from 6 am on Wednesday till 6 am on Thursday. Emergency, casualty, ICU and related services will function normally.

What Does the Bill Say?

The bill, passed by Lok Sabha on Monday, 29 July, provides for setting up a National Medical Commission in place of Medical Council of India for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions.

It also has a provision for making national standards in medical education uniform by proposing that the final year MBBS exam be treated as an entrance test for PG and a screening test for students who graduate in medicine from foreign countries.

What Does This Mean?

“Section 32 of the NMC Bill provides for licensing of 3.5 lakh unqualified non-medical persons to practise modern medicine. The term Community Health Provider has been vaguely defined to allow anyone connected with modern medicine to get registered in NMC and be licensed to practise modern medicine,”
RV Asokan, secretary general of IMA

"This would mean that all paramedics including pharmacists, nurses, physiotherapists, optometrists and others are becoming eligible to practise modern medicine and prescribe independently. This law legalises quackery," said Asokan.

Doctors Across the Country Join Protest

Doctors from various states like Gujarat, Telangana and West Bengal have joined the 24-hour nationwide strike called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Secretary of the Telangana wing of the Indian Medical Association claimed that barring a few corporate hospitals, about 16,000 IMA member doctors and over 10,000 medical students participated in various forms of protests across the state.

"We believe that more than 28,000 doctors in Gujarat have joined the strike on Wednesday beginning 6 am," according to the Gujarat chapter of IMA.

Doctors in OPDs across state-run hospitals in Kolkata, Murshidabad and Hooghly reportedly stayed off their duties even as patients waited in serpentine queues for treatment.

The medical fraternity is anguished that the health minister, a surgeon, instead of including key recommendations made by the Parliament Standing Committee, replaced many provisions with clauses detrimental to the doctors' community.

The IMA termed the bill as 'anti-poor, anti-student and undemocratic'.

Outpatient Services Severely Affected

As a result of this nationwide strike, outpatient services at many government and private hospitals were hit on Wednesday, 31 July. However, emergency services and other departments remained operational.

“Barring a few corporate hospitals, doctors in all hospitals, including in the government, participated in the strike. There was no disruption of emergency services and inpatient treatment,”
Sanjeev Singh Yadav, Secretary, Telangana Wing IMA

While the Gujarat IMA claimed majority of the registered doctors joined the strike, officials at Ahmedabad civil hospital, the largest facility in the state, said the strike did not have any major impact on services.

"Civil hospital is functioning as usual. Our doctors have not joined the strike. It is up to the doctors to join the strike or not. Doctors associated with the government-run hospitals have not joined the strike," said civil hospital superintendent M M Prabhakar.

(With Inputs from PTI)

(This story was auto-published from a syndicated feed. No part of the story has been edited by The Quint.)

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Published: 30 Jul 2019, 01:14 PM IST
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