Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s meeting with protesting doctors today indicated a breakthrough, with the medics indicating that the strike is likely to be called off. There has been no formal announcement yet. While the doctors said the Chief Minister had “good intentions” and dubbed her a “guardian”, Ms Banerjee accepted their demands, suggesting a 10-point plan to ensure security at the hospitals. The meeting, held in presence of the media, came as hospitals around the country suspended all but essential services in solidarity with the Bengal doctors. The matter has reached the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear a petition about the safety of doctors.
Here’s the 10-points cheat sheet to this big story:
- 1) “We are proud of our doctors. You may be angry with my government but please go back to work. I will be very happy if you announce the end of your cease work now,” she told the doctors after the meeting. She also added that the people must be sensitised, “all patients are not bad”.
- 2) “We came here for discussion because we want a solution… We believe that you have good intentions. If possible, please take appropriate action against the unwanted incidents that have taken place,” the doctors said during the meeting today, dubbing the Chief Minister their “guardian”.
- 3) Union minister Babul Supriyo said Mamata Banerjee was responsible for the medical crisis across the country. “Had Mamata not been an egotist, she should have met the injured doctors on the first day and provided them with security. But Mamata rebuked them and threatened them with ESMA (a law against strikes by employees in essential services),” he added.
- 4) Today’s meeting was held after a week of ups and downs that started with the Chief Minister’s visit to the state-run SSKM hospital, where the injured doctor is fighting for his life. On the occasion, the Chief Minister had accused the striking doctors of being “outsiders” and promised tough action, including eviction from hostels, if they did not end the strike.
- 5) Her words had incurred the wrath of the junior doctors who insisted on continuing the strike if their demands – including stronger security and an unconditional apology from the Chief Minister – were not met.
- 6) After six days of strike, which saw shut Out-Patient Departments, an end to elective surgeries and diagnostic services and affected thousands of patients, the doctors indicated yesterday that they were ready for talks.
- 7) The strike, meanwhile spread and today, following a call by the Indian Medical Association, non-essential services — which include Out Patient Departments, elective surgeries and diagnostic tests – were cancelled in hospitals across the country.
- 8) The Indian Medical Association has called for a comprehensive law in dealing with violence on doctors and healthcare staff. It also wants security measures to be specified.
- 9) Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told NDTV that the Centre has decided to study the possibility of a new law on doctors’ security. “I have written to all Chief Ministers including Mamata Banerjee. But we will also try to bring a fresh law at the Centre,” he said, adding such an attempt was once made in 2017.
- 10) A resident doctor at the Trauma Centre of the premier All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi was allegedly abused and threatened by the drunk relatives of a patient last night, pushing the doctors to join the strike.