Scores of doctors across the country including the national capital have decided to stop work and strike for a day as the protest against the attack on a medical intern flared up in West Bengal.
Apart from Bengal, doctors of Delhi, Maharashtra, Hyderabad, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have joined the nationwide protest.
Protests by doctors following an attack on a junior doctor at Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital in West Bengal entered the fourth day on Friday.
Pariboho Mukherjee, a doctor, suffered serious injuries to his skull when relatives of a 75-year-old patient, Mohammed Shahid, clashed with doctors alleging that the patient died because of negligence.
Patients are facing huge difficulties across the nation in the wake of the massive protest.
Doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi have called off work for the day over the attack on junior doctors in Bengal.
The resident doctors’ association of AIIMS have also urged doctors’ bodies across the country to join the token strike.
Patients and their relatives are lined up outside the OPD at AIIMS. They are being told to go to some other hospital and get the required treatment done.
“My mother’s dialysis was scheduled for today, we were told to go and get it done from somewhere else,” a relative of a patient told ANI.
However, emergency services will function normally as the resident doctors will purportedly continue to work as per their scheduled duties, AIIMS medical superintendent DK Sharma said in a statement.
Inpatient wards, labour and maternity care facilities will also function normally. However, the outpatient department and diagnostic services will largely remain suspended, he added.
Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) has also joined the strike.
“We are shutting down our OPD, ward and academic services from 8 am to 5 pm today. Emergency services will not be hampered,” an official statement by MARD said.
In Nagpur, doctors protest holding ‘Save the Saviour’ and ‘Stand with NRSMCH’ posters at the Government Medical College.
Doctors at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, Hyderabad too have joined the protest over attack on doctors in West Bengal hospital.
Resident doctors at Chhattisgarh’s Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Memorial Hospital raised slogans of ‘We Want Justice’ as they protested over violence against doctors.
In Rajasthan, doctors at Jaipuria hospital carry out their duties wearing black bands as a mark of protest.
Members of Indian Medical Association in Kerala’s Trivandrum have also joined the nationwide protest.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), has reportedly directed members of its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges in solidarity with West Bengal doctors. It will also ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to bring out a central law against such violence.
Earlier on Thursday, Mamata Banerjee wrote to protesting doctors of medical colleges and hospitals in her state requesting them to take care of all patients.
Banerjee, who had earlier today issued a four-hour ultimatum to junior doctors to return to work, told doctors in a letter that she will be “obliged and honoured” if they take full care of patients.
Banerjee was faced with sloganeering doctors when she visited the state-run SSKM hospital in Kolkata. She then gave an ultimatum to the doctors, which ended without the protesters calling off their strike.
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday assured doctors that the Government was committed towards their safety and also appealed to them to hold symbolic protests and continue with their duties.
He further appealed to West Bengal CM Banerjee to not make it an issue of prestige. He said, the ultimatum issued by Mamata had angered the doctors and thus the strike gained nationwide significance.
Earlier on Wednesday, both Trinamool Congress and BJP leaders urged normalcy of health services in West Bengal and requested the hospitals to resume work.