Emergency services at major government hospitals in Delhi, including All India Institutes of Medical Sciences and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, resumed around Friday midnight, PTI reported. However, doctors said their protest against the National Medical Commission Bill would continue and non-essential services, including the outpatient departments, would remain closed. The decision were taken at a meeting of resident doctors’ associations.
Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan met the protesting doctors and claimed he had cleared their misunderstandings about the legislation. Most of its proposals were passed by Parliament.
The Resident Doctors’ Association and the students’ union of All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Saturday said they appreciated Vardhan’s efforts to address their misgivings about the bill but added that “many of the concerns pertaining to the medical fraternity have not been adequately addressed”. They listed a series of questions in their statement about the bill and said they would continue the strike. “Keeping in mind the best interests of the patient community, the General Body Meeting has resolved to the emergency services at AIIMS, New Delhi, with immediate effect,” read their statement.
The doctors urged parliamentarians to address their concerns when the bill is reintroduced in the Lok Sabha for ratification of official amendments made by the Upper House. They threatened to shut down emergency services again if the government does not agree to their demands.
The bill seeks to regulate medical education and practices in India. It also aims to replace Medical Council of India, the regulatory body for medical education in the country, with National Medical Commission, and introduce a common final year MBBS examination – the national exit test – for admission to postgraduate medical courses and for obtaining licence to practise medicine.
“The provisions of the said bill are nothing short of draconian and promote gross incompetence and mockery of professionals currently working day and night and sacrificing their youth for this broken system,” the doctors had earlier said in a joint statement. Hundreds of doctors at government hospitals in Delhi have been protesting since Thursday. Services at government hospitals have been disrupted in other parts of the country too.