Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramiah on Thursday evening held talks with Health Minister Ramesh Kumar to discuss the ongoing doctors’ strike in the state. Around 22,000 doctors in private medical establishments in Bengaluru joined an indefinite strike from Thursday demanding that at least four of the 14 proposals in the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (amendment) Bill, 2017, be dropped.

Siddaramaiah will meet members of doctors’ association on Friday, ANI reported.

At least seven people have died in the past one week as a result of not receiving medical treatment after private medical clinics and hospitals shut down their out-patient departments. The latest in this string of deaths is a 26-year-old man in Dharwad. He died on Thursday allegedly after private hospital staff refused to attend to the patient, The New Indian Express reported.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court on Thursday urged the striking doctors to call off their protest immediately and hold discussions with the government. “Looking at the gravity of the situation, we appeal to all private doctors associations to call off their strike immediately and participate in the meeting called by government to have an open discussion over their grievances,” the Karnataka High Court said, according to The Times of India.

The bench pointed out that the Bill has not even been tabled yet and that the government is open for talks, The Quint reported. The High Court has adjourned further hearing on the petitions to Friday.

Earlier on Thursday, while speaking in the Assembly, Health Minister Ramesh Kumar had said that the state government was ready to hold talks with the agitating doctors to find a solution to their grievances. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party had raised the matter, claiming that the health minister was not trying to find an amicable solution to the matter as he was taking it as a “prestige issue”, PTI reported.

The amendment bill – which the Indian Medical Association’s president-elect Dr Ravindra HN had claimed was draconian – proposes to regulate the cost of medical procedures, introduce prison terms for doctors convicted in cases, higher penalties and more grievance cells, among other things.