The Indian Medical Association (IMA) launched a three-day nationwide protest from Friday to express solidarity with the doctors agitating against the attack on their colleagues in West Bengal and called for a strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services.
The apex body of doctors in the country also renewed its demand for a central law to check violence against health care workers in hospitals and said it should have a provision for a minimum of seven-year jail sentence to violaters.
In view of the continued suffering of the resident doctors and repeated occurrence of such incidents without redressal, the IMA has decided to continue their protest on Saturday and Sunday as well, which will include wearing black badges, dharnas, peace marches and has requested support from all associations of the fraternity to join the agitation, it said.
"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 also called for an "nationwide withdrawal of non-essential services in all health care 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 All non-essential services including OPDs will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am, while emergency and causality services will continue to function. "Safety and security in hospitals have been a matter of great concern and need to be addressed. IMA has been demanding a central law against hospital violence and has declared a zero-tolerance policy against violence on doctors and healthcare establishments.
"World Medical Association has also passed a resolution against violence on healthcare establishments and urged to bring stronger legislation against this menace," Asokan said. Violence in hospitals will adversely affect patient care and institutions will be reluctant to take up complicated and risky patients which will affect critical care. Threat of violence increases the stress levels of health care workers.
Sound judgment regarding patient care will be compromised in such situations, he explained. "A national law against violence in hospitals has to be brought in urgently that should provide a minimum of seven years imprisonment for hospital violence. "To ensure that the cases are registered, culprits are arrested and conviction is necessitated, appropriate mandatory provisions as provided in the POCSO Act have to be instituted. Hospitals should be declared as safe zones and provision of appropriate security should be the responsibility of the state," Asokan said.
The junior doctors have been agitating since Tuesday in West Bengal demanding security for themselves in government hospitals, after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured allegedly by relatives of a patient who died at the NRS Medical College and Hospital.