The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a plea that seeks to ensure the safety and security of doctors at government hospitals across the country, PTI reported. This comes after health services in West Bengal were paralysed by a massive strike by doctors that began on June 11 after a mob attacked two junior doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata following the death of a patient.

A vacation bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant agreed to hear the matter after advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava – the petitioner – sought an urgent hearing of the petition, which was filed on Friday.

Srivastava has urged the court to direct the Union ministries of home affairs and health, and the West Bengal government to appoint security personnel at all state-run hospitals, and establish appropriate guidelines on the matter for the security of doctors.

“As per the study conducted by IMA [Indian Medical Association], more than 75% of doctors across the country have faced some form of violence,” the plea said. “This study concluded that 50% violent incidents took place in the intensive care unit of hospitals and in 70% of cases, the relatives of the patients were actively involved.”

The petitioner said doctors, especially those working in government hospitals, were the saviours of people. “The doctors are are doing great national service,” he added. “Particularly to the poor and downtrodden of this country, in extremely adverse circumstances.”

Srivastava pointed that healthcare services in the country have been badly disrupted and many people are dying because of absence of doctors in hospitals.

West Bengal protests

Doctors on strike in West Bengal are scheduled meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday afternoon. 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. However, no media will be allowed at the meeting as demanded by the protestors.

The protest against the NRS Hospital incident has spread to other parts of the country. The Indian Medical Association 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 and end the crisis.