The IMA launched a four-day nationwide protest from Friday to express solidarity with the doctors agitating against the attack on their colleagues in West Bengal and has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against health care workers in hospitals. Condemning any form of violence especially against medical professionals in the country, the apex body of doctors said the protest will continue on Saturday and Sunday as well, which will include wearing black badges, dharnas and peace marches, and called for a strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), which had earlier called for a day-long protest, said it has taken the decision in view of the continued suffering of the resident doctors and repeated occurrence of such incidents without redressal. In a letter to Shah, the IMA requested him "to bring a central legislation in the form of special law against violence on doctors and health care establishments".
"Any form of violence against medical profession and facilities will be counterproductive, demoralise health providers, thus taking away the confidence and courage of medical profession especially in critical situations," it said "Ultimately the situation will adversely impact on patient care and safety and implications will be far reaching," it said.
Renewing the demand for a central law, the IMA said the law should have a provision for a minimum of seven-year jail sentence to violaters. To ensure that the cases are registered, culprits are arrested and conviction is necessitate, appropriate mandatory provisions as provided in the POCSO Act have to be instituted, it demanded.
Hospitals should be declared as safe zones and provision of appropriate security should be the responsibility of the state, it said. "IMA condemns the recent incident of violence against Dr Paribaha Mukherjee who was brutally attacked by a violent mob at NRS Medical College, Kolkata and demands an exemplary action by the state government. All the legitimate demands of the resident doctors in West Bengal should be accepted unconditionally," RV Asokan, Secretary General of IMA, said.
The IMA said all non-essential services including OPDs will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am on June 17, while emergency and causality services will continue to function. "Safety and security in hospitals have been a matter of great concern and need to be addressed. IMA has been demanding a central law against hospital violence and has declared a zero-tolerance policy against violence on doctors and healthcare establishments.
"World Medical Association has also passed a resolution against violence on healthcare establishments and urged to bring stronger legislation against this menace," Asokan said. Violence in hospitals will adversely affect patient care and institutions will be reluctant to take up complicated and risky patients which will affect critical care. Threat of violence increases the stress levels of health care workers. Sound judgment regarding patient care will be compromised in such situations, he explained.
"A national law against violence in hospitals has to be brought in urgently that should provide a minimum of seven years imprisonment for hospital violence," Asokan said. The doctors have been agitating since Tuesday in West Bengal 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.
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