Resident doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi called off their strike and resumed duties on Sunday after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told them that their concerns about the National Medical Commission Bill would be addressed. They had been protesting since Thursday.
The bill seeks to regulate medical education and practices in India. It also aims to replace the Medical Council of India, the regulatory body for medical education in the country, with the 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. It has been passed by both Houses of Parliament but is set to be reintroduced in the Lok Sabha for the ratification of changes suggested by the Upper House.
“Met the delegation of AIIMS RDA at my residence and reiterated that National Medical Commission Bill is a big change in the field of medical education which will prove to be a blessing in better health services to 130 crore people,” Harsh Vardhan tweeted after the meeting.
The AIIMS Resident Doctors Association told the institution’s director that the minister had assured them their concerns would be addressed during the drafting of the medical commission’s regulations. The doctors at Safdarjung also called off their strike at midnight and informed the medical superintendent of the hospital. Doctors associated with the Federation of Resident Doctors Association also resumed services in all government hospitals in Delhi.
The climbdown by the protesting doctors came a day after they resumed emergency services but did not reopen outpatient departments, warning the government that their protests would intensify if their concerns were not noted.
“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.