Disciplinary action against striking doctors; warns health ministry

Henrietta Brewer
August 4, 2019

A joint statement issued by Student Union president Mukul Kumar and RDA chief Amarinder Singh, said that keeping in mind the best interests of the patient community, the General Body Meeting has resolved to resume the emergency services by resident doctors, however, the strike against certain provisions of NMC Bill would continue along with the medical fraternity across the nation.

However, the emergency services at most hospitals, including AIIMS, RML Hospital and Delhi government-run facilities have been resumed after the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan appealed the medicos to resume their work.

However, the emergency services will resume with immediate effect from Saturday at AIIMS.

At Safdarjung Hospital, the doctors did not join duties in any department, including the emergency department.

Amid widespread protests, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in a late night tweet said he would table the NMC bill for consideration and passage in the Rajya Sabha on August 1. The Bill empowers the Centre to override the decisions and recommendations of the National Medical Commission and autonomous boards.

"The faculty, nurses and technologists will render patient care in all emergency areas and wards, while elective services will be suspended".

"I have been asked by the ministry to inform you that if the doctors do not resume duties immediately, strong punitive action like suspension/termination of service, evacuation of hostel accommodation will be initiated against all doctors on strike", Dr Sunil Gupta, medical director at Safdarjung Hospital, said in the memorandum addressed to the hospital's Resident Doctors Association president. It also proposes a common final-year MBBS examination, to be known as National Exit Test (NEXT), for admission to post-graduate medical courses and for obtaining a licence to practice medicine.

It provides for the repeal of the Indian Medical Council Act 1956. They listed a series of questions in their statement about the bill and said they would continue the strike. However, the doctors continued their protest for the third day.

Demonstrations and hunger strikes were held in several locations across the country against the Bill which the medical community has termed "pro-rich" and 'against the medical profession.

There are several provisions of the Bill that are raising eyebrows of the medical students and doctors across the country. For example, the doctors are uncertain on the concept of NEXT and demolishing NEET-PG.

Agitating doctors expressed concerns over the privatisation of medical education.

The NMC Bill will take over the functions of the Medical Council of India (MCI) with regards to medical education.

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