Outpatient services across private hospitals in Karnataka are likely to be affected on Monday as the Indian Medical Association has called for a complete shutdown to protest against the proposed amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act.
Around 8,000 medical personnel will be off duty to go to Belagavi and negotiate with the government. The doctors may go on a hunger strike from Tuesday if the talks fail, reported the Deccan Herald. The “Belagavi Chalo” protest comes on a day when the government is likely to pass the bill as the Winter Session begins.
However, the Association of Healthcare Providers of India and other private hospital associations said emergency services would remain unaffected. Dr Ajai Kumar, the president of AHPI, said junior doctors would be available in hospitals for emergency services. He, however, warned that service in tier-2 and tier-3 cities could be worse off.
Dr Rajashekar Bellary, the state president of IMA Karnataka, told The New Indian Express that surgeries have been postponed but emergency services would be handled by government hospitals.
Doctors have been opposing the proposed amendments on the grounds that it will give the government more power to regulate fees and the cost of treatment at private hospitals. The bill also proposes setting up a district-level grievance committee that can take action against erring hospitals. “The amendment proposed are draconian and against private hospitals, doctors and patients,” said IMA Mangaluru President Dr KR Kamath, according to Deccan Herald.
Private doctors’ associations said their main demand was that the bill should apply to government hospitals too, and that the state government must consider the recommendations made by a committee headed by former Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Vikramajit Sen. “Justice Sen said there cannot be two sets of rules for private and government hospitals, and the act must cover government hospitals, as well,” Dr Bellary had said.