Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday met doctors who are protesting against the National Medical Commission Bill and urged them to end their protest, ANI reported. Vardhan told reporters that he had cleared the doctors’ misunderstandings about the legislation, most of whose proposals have been passed by both Houses of Parliament.
“I have explained to them that this bill is in the nation’s interest and in interest of doctors and patients,” Vardhan said.
The Indian Medical Association also called for an emergency Extended Action Committee meeting on August 4, ANI reported. In a press release, the association said it stood in solidarity with the resident doctors associations and medical students.
Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, the biggest Delhi government-run medical institution, was barely functional and the emergency services were available only to patients in critical condition, Hindustan Times reported.
“We are having a meeting now to see how to manage the situation, but the OPD will likely function like yesterday and the emergency department will take in only the most critical patients,” said the hospital’s medical director Kishore Singh. “ No other new admissions will be done. All routine surgeries will have to be cancelled as well.”
Resident doctors at major government hospitals in Delhi, including All India Institutes of Medical Sciences, Safdarjung Hospital and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, have been on strike since Thursday. They have withdrawn all services, including in the emergency wing, PTI reported. They have threatened an indefinite strike if the government does not address their concerns about the bill.
The Rajya Sabha had on Thursday passed the National Medical Commission Bill to replace the Medical Council of India with a new body. The bill, which seeks to replace the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, was passed by a voice vote amid protest by Opposition MPs. It will go back to the Lok Sabha as two fresh amendments were introduced in the Upper House.
Hundreds of doctors at government hospitals in Delhi had marched towards Parliament and chanted slogans in protest on Thursday. They were detained briefly by police. Doctors associated with the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association were also prevented from venturing out for another march, the association’s general secretary Dr Sunil Arora told PTI.
Resident doctors of Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Hospital, BR Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital, DDU Hospital and Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital have also joined the protests. The hospital administrations are managing the emergency departments and intensive care units with the help of faculty members, sponsored residents and pool officers. Routine surgeries were cancelled, authorities said.
The Indian Medical Association has called the provisions of the bill “nothing short of draconian”, and said they “promote gross incompetence and mockery of the professionals currently working day and night and sacrificing their youth for this broken system”.