West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday suggested 10-point security measures for safety of doctors in hospitals as she held “productive” talks with representatives of striking junior doctors in Kolkata, raising prospects of an end to the nearly week-long agitation by the medicos who are protesting the assault of one of their colleagues in a state-run hospital.
At a meeting with the doctors which was telecast live, Mamata said one of the key security measures could be the creation of an interface between the doctors and patients that would take the pressure off the medicos, deploying a senior police officer at each hospital and restricting the entry of patient's attendants in the emergency section.
"We will try to ensure that not more than two people enter the emergency ward at a time... the news of anyone's death or updates about the patient's health will be communicated through proper channels and in a most humble manner," Mamata said outlining the 10-point security measures.
She also asked the administration and police officers, who were present at the meeting, to provide the doctors with the details of those who attacked the junior doctor at the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital and the action taken against them. This was one of the key demands of the doctors.
The meeting between Mamata and the striking doctors was held after protests, which began on Monday last after at least three junior doctors were beaten up by family members of a patient who died in the state-run NRS Medical College, has paralysed operations of outpatient departments (OPDs) and spilled over to other parts of India, including the national capital of New Delhi.
Thousands of doctors across India went on a day’s strike on Monday to express solidarity with their counterparts in West Bengal who have stayed away from work since Tuesday last in protesting against the beating up of one of their colleagues by relatives of a patient who died at Kolkata’s state-run Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital.
The strike was called by the Indian Medical Association, the apex body of doctors, which has supported the agitation of the doctors in West Bengal. Many senior doctors have resigned from their government posts in order to express solidarity with the agitating doctors. Mamata gave her consent for live media coverage of the proposed meeting with agitating junior doctors, meeting one of the key demands of the strikers as efforts continued for a solution to the week-long impasse.
The state government had earlier turned down the striking doctors' demand for live telecast of the meeting scheduled to be held later on Monday afternoon. "The chief minister has agreed to the demand for live coverage of the meeting," a West Bengal government official said adding the meeting will be held at an auditorium adjacent to the state secretariat ‘Nabanna’ in Howrah.
Earlier, the doctors had put forth a six-point demand that included better security for them, action against those who assaulted the junior doctor in Kolkata and an apology from Mamata Banerjee who had called the striking doctors "outsiders". Doctors of AIIMS held a protest march in the campus this morning and said "we once again urge the West Bengal administration to fulfil the demands of the striking doctors and resolve the matter amicably at the earliest in the best interest of the general public," a statement issued by the RDA said.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has given the strike call with the withdrawal of nonessential health services across the country. IMA members also staged a sit-in protest at its headquarters here.