Doctors hold nationwide strike against NMC bill, withdraw emergency services

Doctors hold nationwide strike against NMC bill, withdraw emergency services

Doctors hold nationwide strike against NMC bill, withdraw emergency services

The healthcare services, including that at emergency department, will remain affected on Friday also as resident doctors' associations of AIIMS, Safdarjung, RML and those attached with FORDA made a decision to continue their strike on Friday after the passage of the National Medical Commission Bill in Rajya Sabha.

Agitations continued at various hospitals as doctors wore black badges to work as a mark of protest against the bill on Wednesday.

The Bill, which gives more power to the Centre, was moved by health minister Harsh Vardhan for passage in the Upper House despite stiff protests from the medical fraternity. Dr Sumedh Sandanshiv, president, Federation of Resident Doctors' Association (FORDA), charged that the bill was "anti-poor, anti-student and undemocratic".

He sought "unanimous" support to the Bill, saying it is a very important legislation to improve medical education in the country.

Several government hospitals, including All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and Safdarjung Hospital, had to scale back on their routine clinics and cancel scheduled surgeries on Thursday with almost 20,000 resident doctors and students striking work.

The one-day strike is in protest of the Lok Sabha approving and passing the National Medical Commission Bill (NMC) 2019.

The bill, which seeks to replace the graft-tainted Medical Council of India (MCI) with a National Medical Commission, is slated to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Protests by resident doctors and undergraduate students of AIIMS and Safdarjung hospitals hit traffic on the stretch of road between Ring Road and Parliament as they tried to march towards Parliament.

A man carries his relative at Delhi's LNJP hospital, August 1, 2019.

Hospital authorities have issued a contingency plan for the smooth functioning of healthcare services so that emergency services function. "In addition, faculty members of other medical/surgical departments wherever applicable will also be deployed in the emergency". While the out patient department (OPD), dialysis, radio-diagnosis and laboratory diagnosis services are scheduled to function on a restricted basis, routine operation theatre services will largely remain suspended on Friday, the authorities said.

The strike was called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which is the country's top body representing the medical fraternity with around 300,000 members.

"The provisions of the said bill are nothing short of draconian and promote gross incompetence and mockery of the professionals now working day and night and sacrificing their youth for this broken system". According to the Bill, the Commission may grant limited licence to practice medicine at mid-level as Community Health Provider to such person connected with modern scientific medical profession who qualifies such criteria as may be specified by the regulations.

He alleged that the bill will promote quackery.

"Once the NMC Bill is approved, exit examination will be implemented in the next three years", the Minister said.

It said if the bill is tabled in the Rajya Sabha without any amendments, the medical fraternity across the country will be "forced to resort to extreme measures".

"We also strongly condemn the assault and detainment of peacefully protesting doctors while we were exercising our democratic right to protest against the pro-visions of the bill affecting our fraternity and the general public at large", read a press release.

According to the Bill, the Community Health Provider may prescribe specified medicine independently, only in primary and preventive healthcare, but in cases other than primary and preventive healthcare, he may prescribe medicine only under the supervision of medical practitioners registered under sub-section (1) of section 32. "We will withdraw from essential and non-essential services from the hospitals for an indefinite period", he said.

Resident doctors of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Hospital, B R Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital, DDU Hospital and Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital have also boycotted work and joined the stir.

There are several provisions of the Bill that are raising eyebrows of the medical students and doctors across the country.

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