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2019 India doctors' strike

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2019 India doctors' strike
Date11 June 2019 – ongoing
(5 days)
Location
Caused byLack of security in government hospitals
Assault on two junior doctors at NRSMCH
GoalsProvisioning security for medical professionals
Public apology from the Chief Minister of West Bengal
Methods
StatusOngoing
Parties to the civil conflict
Doctors and related associations across India
Government of West Bengal
Lead figures
Various
Casualties
Injuries2 junior doctors initially,followed by atleast 3 other junior doctors by mob violence
Arrested5 people

On 11 June 2019, following the assault of two junior doctors at Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital (NRSMCH) the previous night, junior doctors in Kolkata began protesting and demanded the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee to intervene and provide adequate security to medical professionals, culminating into the collapse of healthcare facilities in the state.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11] Despite attempts at mediation, protests continued through 13 June, finally resulting in the Chief Minister issuing an ultimatum to the protesting doctors,[12][13][14][15] which was eventually defied by the protesting doctors who wanted the government to meet their demands for security[16] and a public apology from the Chief Minister.[17]

Background

Historical incidents

Doctors' protest demanding justice for a fellow doctor who was a victim of mob violence

Due to the increasing reports of violence against doctors, the main source of stress for doctors was fear of violence, followed by fear of being sued. 62% of doctors who answered a survey reported that they were unable to see their patients without any fear of violence, and 57% had considered hiring security staff at their workplace.[18]

When healthcare workers were assaulted, they frequently resorted to peaceful strikes, which sometimes included termination of ward and emergency services. During such protests, it was not uncommon for the public to attack the protesters.[19]

In a tertiary care hospital in Delhi, 40% of doctors reported being exposed to violence in the last year. The point of delivery of emergency services was the most common place of violence and verbal abuse was the most common form of violence. The most common symptoms experienced by the doctors who were subjected to violence were anger, frustration and irritability. Out of those who were exposed to violence, only 44% reported the incidence to the authorities.[20] Instances of assaulting medical professionals in government and private hospitals is common in West Bengal[8] and India.[21]

In an incident in early June 2019, a case was registered against a 17-year-old boy and his friend for allegedly assaulting a doctor at a hospital in Maharashtra after his father died during treatment.[21] Even earlier in April 2019, the administration of the Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital filed a police complaint against the relative of a patient who slapped a doctor.[21]

Origin of protests

Another of these incidents occurred on the night of 10 June 2019 after Mohammed Shaheed, a 75-year-old patient from Tangra, Calcutta, passed away at NRS Medical College.[2] Eleven relatives of the deceased were upset over the patient's death[9] and alleged that he died due to medical negligence.[2][1] They claimed that the body of the deceased was not handed over to them on time.[2][1] Staff at the hospital stated that the relatives also misbehaved with junior doctors.[9] Shortly after, a mob reached NRSMCH at around 11 pm (UTC+05:30) and fought with the junior doctors.[1][2] The clashes turned the premises into a "battleground" at night and the morning after as doctors at the facility alleged that over 200 people arrived on trucks[4] to assault doctors and destroy hospital property.[2] Another account states that the people arrived in cars wearing helmets to attack doctors at the hospital.[7] Two intern doctors, Paribaha Mukhopadhyay and Yash Tekwani,[4] who were dealing with the protests by the deceased patient's relatives, were injured in the ensuing clashes.[2] Yash was admitted at NRSMCH[9] with Paribaha being admitted in an intensive care unit at the Institute of Neurosciences in Kolkata after they both suffered head injuries.[8] Paribaha suffered a deep dent in the frontal bone[4] as suggested by a CT scan image uploaded by doctors at the hospital.[5]

Protests

Day 1: 11 June 2019

On 11 June 2019, at least 50 intern doctors closed the gates of the NRSMCH to protest against the attack on the two junior doctors and demanded that the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee takes adequate action and provides security to doctors.[2][3][6] The doctors alleged that the police took no action after the two junior doctors were assaulted the previous night.[12] The CPIM-backed Doctors' Forum proposed to stop all work at the outpatient departments of all state-run hospitals in West Bengal from the next day. A member of the forum also added that emergency services would remain active at all hospitals.[6]

Day 2: 12 June 2019

As protests entered the second day on 12 June 2019, patients across West Bengal were left without healthcare as junior doctors continued with the strike. On the same day, the agitation of intern doctors at the NRSMCH spilled over to all thirteen state-run hospitals and medical colleges in the city and at least six other district hospitals,[9] causing disruption of regular medical services.[2][3] Affected hospitals include the Calcutta National Medical College Hospital, Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and SSKM Hospital, R G Kar Hospital and medical colleges in Murshidabad, Midnapore, North Bengal and Bankura.[9] All departments, including out-patient departments and pathological laboratories were shutdown following the protests of the junior doctors. Protestors said that work will not resume at the hospitals until full protection is given to medical professionals.[1][2] Contrary to statements by the Doctors' Forum, emergency wards at at least three state-run hospitals, NRSMCH,[4] SSKM Hospital[22] and Burdwan Medical College remained closed.[7]

Mediation

West Bengal Medical Council (WBMC) president and AITC MLA Nirmal Maji told Press Trust of India (PTI) that officials were trying to convince the doctors to resume work.[1] While the protestors requested direct intervention from the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, only her deputy, Chandrima Bhattacharya, Minister of State for Health, visited NRSMCH. There were meetings between doctors and representatives of the state government. A spokesperson for the government stated that the Chief Minister was herself monitoring the situation. Mamata Banerjee's nephew, MP Abhishek Banerjee also appealed to the doctors to resume work. However, mediation was not successful and protests continued.[9]

Planned protests

WMA_NRS
World Medical Assosiaction condemns the Attack. Tokyo, 13.06.2019

Medical associations across the country threatened to strike on June 14 to protest over the rising violence against doctors, which is predicted to hit medical services across the country.[15][23] All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Resident Doctors' Association declared a boycott on June 14 in line[15] with the directions of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) which directed all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on the day.[15][23] The IMA asked state presidents and secretaries to organise demonstrations at their respective district collectors' officers between 10 am and 12 noon (local time).[15][23] The Delhi Medical Association (DMA) also called for a full medical strike on the day to protest against the assault of the doctors.[23][15]

Day 3: 13 June 2019

As protests entered the third day on 13 June 2019,[11] all outpatient departments of government hospitals remained closed,[12] with only senior doctors manning emergency wards and outpatient departments at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata and Burdwan Medical College.[13] Despite the ultimatum, protests continued with junior doctors stating that the agitation will continue until their demands for security[16] and a public apology from the Chief Minister are met.[17] Resident doctors at the AIIMS in Delhi worked on 13 June with bandages on their heads as a symbolic protest.[23][15]

Ultimatum

On 13 June 2019, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee issued an ultimatum to the doctors on strike to return to work within 4 hours[13] (by 2 pm local time).[12] She made the statement while visiting the state-run SSKM Hospital to talk to the junior doctors on strike. Speaking about the doctors, she said, "They are outsiders. The government will not support them in any way. I condemn doctors who have gone on strike. Policemen die in line of duty but the police don't go on a strike,"[14][12][13] further adding that the strike will not be tolerated.[17]

Resignations

At late night, the principal and medical superintendent of NRSMCH, Professor Saibal Mukherjee and Professor Sourav Chatterjee stepped down from their positions.[24] They submitted their resignation via email to the state director of medical education.[24][25]

Day 4: 14 June 2019

On June 14 2019, The DMA organized a statewide medical strike in Delhi per their prior announcement.[21] Resident doctors at AIIMS New Delhi and Safdarjung Hospital boycotted their work.[21] In Maharashtra, around 4,500 resident doctors suspended outpatient departments, wards and diagnostic services from 8 am to 5 pm (local time).[21] Emergency services at either places were not hampered.[21] Doctors also staged a protest at the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad.[21] Protests in West Bengal went into the fourth day as outdoor facilities, emergency wards and pathological wards of many state-run hospitals remained closed.[21][26] More than 700 doctors resigned from state-run hospitals[26], with dozens of doctors from Darjeeling and Kolkata resigning to protest the violence against doctors.[21][27]

Planned protests

The IMA called for a nation-wide strike on 17 June 2019.[21][27] The association also stated that it will ask Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring a central law to prevent violence against doctors.[21]

Day 5: 15 June 2019

As protests entered 15 June 2019, the doctors have been protesting for the fifth straight day.[27] The Federation of Resident Doctors' Association stated that 15 hospitals in Delhi held protests.[27] The AIIMS Resident Doctors' Association issuing a 48-hour ultimatum to the West Bengal government.[27]Around 246 resignation were given by doctors working in various government hospitals in[[west bengal]][1]

Arrests

As of 14 June 2019, five people have been arrested in connection to the assault of the two junior doctors.[17][28][29] The Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stated that the bail prayers of the arrested were rejected.[29]

Political overtones

The incumbent Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee alleged that the protests are the result of a conspiracy between the Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).[30][31] She stated that she held the BJP responsible and accused BJP party leader and Union Home Minister, Amit Shah of "creat[ing] confusion and communal tension in the state".[16] The state BJP chief, Dilip Ghosh then alleged that the Chief Minister is not taking action against the people who assaulted the doctors, because they are "her voters".[30]

See also

References

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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "How an intern doctor's fractured skull has Kolkata up in arms as BJP blames Trinamool". India Today. India Today. Archived from the original on 12 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Banerjie, Monideepa. "Bengal Doctors On Strike After Colleague Attacked For Alleged Negligence". NDTV.com. NDTV. NDTV. Archived from the original on 12 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Calcutta doctors attacked, BJP leader blames a particular community". www.telegraphindia.com. The Telegraph. TT Bureau. Archived from the original on 12 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
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  10. ^ Kumari, Sweety (12 June 2019). "Doctors at Kolkata hospitals on strike after colleague assaulted by patient's relatives". The Indian Express. The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 12 June 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  11. ^ a b "Doctors' strike in West Bengal enters third day, Out Patient Departments in Siliguri hospitals to remain shut". Firstpost. Firstpost. Asian News International. Archived from the original on 13 June 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
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  18. ^ Cite error: The named reference IMAsurvey was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
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  20. ^ Anand, Tanu; Grover, Shekhar; Kumar, Rajesh; Kumar, Madhan; Ingle, Gopal Krishna (November 2016). "Workplace violence against resident doctors in a tertiary care hospital in Delhi". The National Medical Journal of India. 29 (6): 344–348. ISSN 0970-258X. PMID 28327484. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
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  22. ^ Mandal, Sanjay. "Doctor's strike: Never seen emergency ward shut down, says physician". The Telegraph. The Telegraph. Retrieved 14 June 2019.
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