Doctors in West Bengal agreed to call off their almost week-long strike on Monday after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assured them of better security at hospitals. The meeting between the representatives of the protesting doctors and the chief minister at the state secretariat was telecast live.
The protests broke out on June 11 after a mob attacked two interns at Kolkata’s NRS Medical College and Hospital, following the death of a patient. On Monday, thousands of doctors across the country joined a nationwide strike called by the Indian Medical Association in solidarity with doctors in West Bengal.
All non-essential services, including outpatient departments, remained closed at many hospitals from 6 am. A central law to prevent attacks on doctors is among the many demands of the Indian Medical Association.
Here are the main updates:
5.45 pm: Meeting ends.
5.44 pm: The doctors assure to withdraw the protest in West Bengal.
5.43 pm: Mamata Banerjee assures doctors that such incidents will not happen in future. “If such an incident takes place again, we will take stern steps,” she adds.
5.31 pm: Mamata Banerjee asks officials to start a state-wide emergency number and email id to report an assault.
5.17 pm: Junior doctors demand that action should be taken against the police if they fail to take steps in connection with their security. Mamata Banerjee agrees.
5.04 pm: Mamata Banerjee says the government has taken adequate measures. “We have arrested five people involved in NRS hospital incident,” she adds.
5.03 pm: Health secretary Rajiv Sinha says the government will deploy additional 125 police personnel inside the NRS hospital to boost security.
5 pm: Mamata Banerjee says she accepts the proposal of doctors to set up grievance redressal cell in government hospitals.
4.59 pm: The chief minister urges doctors not to take the law in their hands.
4.58 pm: Mamata Banerjee praises doctors for their work. However, she adds, hospitals are facing shortage of staff.
4.56 pm: The junior doctors say seniors should take the responsibility of communicating with the patients’ families in complicated cases.
4.54 pm: The chief minister says she tried to speak with the doctors the day after the assault. She says the state has borne all the medical costs of the junior doctor who was attacked.
4.50 pm: After one of the representatives from Cooch Behar says they want the chief minster to support the junior doctors, Banerjee says, “We have always condemned the attack against the doctors.”
4.49 pm: Junior doctors say they are scared while working, demand exemplary punishment for those who assaulted NRS doctors.
4.43 pm: Kolkata Commissioner of Police Arjun Sharma says it is needed to monitor who is entering the hospital.
4.41 pm: Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress leader Kunal Ghosh sits in front of NRS Medical College and Hospital demanding withdrawl of protest by the junior doctors, reports The Indian Express. He threatens to start fasting if the protest is not called off.
4.36 pm: The chief minister suggests that one nodal officer must be appointed to supervise the security situation at the hospital.
4.35 pm: Mamata Banerjee proposes setting up a Public Relations team for state hospitals to communicate with the patients’ families. This team, she says, will update the patients’ family about his/her condition. This will eliminate the risk of doctors being subject to unruly behaviour by the families of the patients, she adds.
4.31 pm: Health secretary Rajiv Sinha tells the protesting doctors who all have been arrested in connection with the assault at NRS.
4.28 pm: No case has been filed against any doctor, confirms the chief minister.
4.26 pm: Mamata Banerjee suggests that not more than two people should be allowed to accompany a patient in the hospital, reports Ananda Bazaar Patrika. She says gates will be installed at every important department in the district hospitals.
4.18 pm: Mamata Banerjee thanks the protesting doctors for coming to the secretariat for the meeting.
4.17 pm: Meeting gets under way.
3.45 pm: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reaches the state secretariat.
3.35 pm: Nearly 28,000 doctors in Gujarat boycott work in solidarity with their colleagues in West Bengal PTI reports. Junior doctors and interns held protests in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Vadodara, Jamnagar and other major cities of the state.
3.34 pm: Resident doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi join the strike. They say they would withdraw elective services from 12 noon on Monday till 6 am on Tuesday, ANI reports. Casualty, Intensive Care Unit, labour room and emergency services will not be affected.
3.32 pm: The Indian Medical Association on Monday demanded a central law to deal with violence against doctors and healthcare staff. The association said exemplary punishment for those involved in violence against doctors should be a component of the central law, and relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure should be amended.
“Healthcare violence has its origin in high expectations, lack of infrastructure and inadequate human resources,” the medical body said in the statement. “Issues of medical profession involving a doctor-patient relationship, effective communication regarding the nature of illness and professional counselling play a part as well.”
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3.30 pm: According to ABP Ananda, 31 representatives of protesting doctors have arrived at the state secretariat.
3.25 pm: Doctors protest at the KEM Hospital in Pune.
3.20 pm: The live coverage feed will be taken from the government, according to News18.
3.15 pm: Doctors on their way to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat.
3 pm: The meeting was initially expected to begin at 3 pm but officials have not yet confirmed the new time.
2.50 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee agrees to talk to protesting NRS doctors in front of the media, Anandabazar Patrika reported. The doctors had rejected her offer of talks earlier in the day as she had initially refused to telecast the meeting live.
2.40 pm: In Kerala, doctors at state-run hospitals boycotted work for two hours while medical practitioners at private hospitals joined the 24-hour nationwide strike, according to PTI. Long queues were seen near outpatient departments at several government hospitals across the state early on Monday. Members of the Indian Medical Association staged a sit-in in front of the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram, demanding security and protection for doctors.
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2.20 pm: The doctors refuse to attend the meeting as the government had rejected their demand to telecast it live, according to Anandabazar Patrika.
2.10 pm: All non-essential services, including outpatient departments, remain closed at many hospitals from 6 am. However, the Indian Medical Association has assured that emergency and casualty services will continue to function.
2 pm: Thousands of doctors across the country on Monday joined a nationwide strike called by the Indian Medical Association in solidarity with doctors in West Bengal, the Hindustan Times reports.
1.45 pm: Over 100 private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics in Karnataka suspended outpatient services on Monday following a call by the Indian Medical Association, PTI reports. Government hospitals remain 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 tells PTI. “Emergency and pregnancy cases were taken up.”
1.30 pm: 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.”
1 pm: Doctors on strike in West Bengal will meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the Hindustan Times reports. The doctors will hold talks with the chief minister at the state secretariat at 3 pm, an unidentified government official says.
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, unlike the protestors’ demands, no media will be allowed at the meeting.
The junior doctors at NRS Hospital in Kolkata went on strike on June 11 along with their colleagues across the state, a day after the family of a patient, who died during treatment, allegedly attacked two interns – Paribaha Mukhopadhyay, who suffered a fractured skull, and Yash Tekwani, who also suffered head injuries. 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.