New Delhi: Agitating doctors on Friday demanded Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s unconditional apology and set six conditions for the State government to withdraw their four-day-long stir that disrupted healthcare services across West Bengal.
“We want unconditional apology of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the manner in which she had addressed us at the SSKM Hospital yesterday. She should not have said what she had,” a spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors, Dr Arindam Dutta, said.
While visiting the SSKM Hospital on Thursday, Banerjee had contended that “outsiders” had entered medical colleges to create disturbances and the agitation was a conspiracy by the CPI(M) and the BJP.
Scores of doctors decided to boycott work for a day to express solidarity with their protesting colleagues in Kolkata, many healthcare services at private and government hospitals nationwide were affected on Friday.
Junior doctors in West Bengal have been agitating since Tuesday demanding security for themselves in government hospitals after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured allegedly by relatives of a patient who died at the NRS Medical College and Hospital.
The India Medical Association had earlier declared “All India Protest Day” on Friday against the incident and expressed solidarity with the striking doctors.
Doctors protest in Maharashtra
Around 4,500 resident doctors in Maharashtra, including some 2,800 in Mumbai, went on a one-day strike Friday in solidarity with the ongoing agitation of junior doctors in West Bengal.
The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) said junior doctors at government hospitals in the state will not perform surgeries or attend to out-patient departments (OPDs) between 8 AM and 5 PM Friday.
However, emergency services will not be affected, it said.
“We will not be treating any patients in routine OPDs or carry out surgeries or take rounds of wards. Doctors posted on emergency duties will not participate in the protest,” a resident doctor, who is a member of MARD, said.
Doctors demonstrate in Rajasthan
Doctors at the SMS government hospital here wore black bands and helmets to express solidarity with their protesting colleagues in West Bengal.
IMA State general secretary Dr VK Jain said resident doctors were seen wearing black bands and helmets while discharging their duties in the outdoor unit of the SMS hospital here.
Jain said doctors in other districts of the state also took part in the token protest.
“The protest is over rising violence against doctors. Concrete action should be taken against such attacks,” he said.
Doctors at major government-run hospitals in Chhattisgarh staged protests Friday in solidarity with the ongoing agitation by junior doctors in West Bengal against the assault on their colleagues in the eastern state.
Around 400 junior doctors of Dr B R Ambedkar Memorial Hospital, Raipur – the biggest government hospital in the state – staged a protest from 8 am to 2 pm in premises of the medical facility.
As part of the protest, they stayed away from attending out-patient departments (OPDs) and operation theatres (OTs), Bhagwati Chandra Verma, president, Junior Doctors Association (JUDA), said.
Holding posters and placards, the protesting doctors raised slogans in support of the agitating physicians in West Bengal and their demands, Verma said. However, emergency services were unaffected due to the protest, he added.
Vardhan appeals for calm
In the wake of protests by the medical fraternity in support of agitating doctors in Kolkata, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Friday urged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to not make this sensitive matter a “prestige issue” while asking her to ensure an “amicable end” to the stir.
In a letter to Banerjee, the Union minister urged her to ensure an “amicable end” to the protests and provide a secure working environment for doctors.
He also appealed to the agitating doctors, particularly in West Bengal, to hold symbolic protests and resume work so that patients do not suffer.
“Doctors should resort to other simple and symbolic ways of protest. As medical professionals, their duty is towards protecting the rights of their patients. Strike is certainly not the best way to protest. Patients should not be deprived of immediate and emergency healthcare facilities,” the Union health minister said.
Aparna to Mamata: Tell doctors you’re sorry
Asserting that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee should have been humble in her approach at the SSKM hospital, actor-filmmaker Aparna Sen on Friday insisted that the TMC supremo should apologise to the agitating doctors for the alleged threats she issued to them.
Sen urged the chief minister to listen to the grievances of the junior doctors patiently.
“Mamata Banerjee has done so much for Bengal, but I am sorry to say that I do not support the way she spoke to the doctors. She must have spoken to them humbly because threats do not get anything done.
“There is no harm or no shame in saying sorry… That will not hamper her popularity,” Sen said.