Doctors on strike in West Bengal are expected to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat at 3 pm on Monday to resolve the crisis, Anandabazar Patrika reported. The doctors first refused to attend the meeting as the government had rejected their demand to telecast it live. But the West Bengal government later agreed to their demands.
An official had told the Hindustan Times earlier in the day that the doctors may seek better infrastructure at state-run hospitals, better security and the arrest of the attackers at NRS Hospital. Around 60 junior doctors, representing 14 medical colleges in West Bengal, are likely to participate in the meeting, The Indian Express had reported on Sunday.
Protests had broken out on June 11 after a mob attacked two interns at the hospital, following the death of a patient. Doctors have continued their protest for the last six days. The protest against the assault on doctors has spread to other parts of the country.
On Sunday, the doctors had said Banerjee was free to decide the venue for a meeting with them, but stressed it should be held in the open. This came a day after they turned down Banerjee’s offer of talks behind closed doors, calling it an eyewash. The protestors had insisted that Banerjee visit NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata to hold talks with them.
“We are keen to end this impasse,” a spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors said. “We are ready to hold talks with the chief minister at a venue of her choice, provided it is held in the open, in the presence of media persons, and not behind closed doors.”
Meanwhile, thousands of doctors across the country joined a nationwide strike called by the Indian Medical Association on Monday in solidarity with their colleagues in West Bengal. Doctors in Delhi, Rajasthan, Assam, Gujarat, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka and Kerala joined the strike.
Over 100 private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in Karnataka suspended outpatient services on Monday following a call by the Indian Medical Association, PTI reported. Government hospitals remained open after the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare issued a circular. “Almost all private hospitals and clinics have shut their OPD services,” said Karnataka IMA president N Dhanpal told PTI. “Emergency and pregnancy cases were taken up.”
The medical body had launched a four-day nationwide protest starting Friday and had written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding the enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors. In a letter on Friday, Vardhan had asked Banerjee to personally intervene in the protests.