New Delhi: Hospitals across the country would be affected for a day today with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) giving the call for the withdrawal of non-essential services for a day in express solidarity with their protesting colleagues in Bengal. (Also read: Goa Doctors Join Nation-wide Stir)

In a statement, IMA reportedly said, “In view of the continued sufferings of medical professionals and health workers as well as repeated occurrence of such incidents without redressal… (the) Indian Medical Association hereby calls for an All India nation-wide withdrawal of non-essential services in all health care institutions on Monday, June 17, 2019. All non-essential services, including OPDs, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 AM to 6 AM next day. All emergency and casualty services will continue to function.”

The IMA also called for a law that would provide a minimum of seven years of imprisonment to those indulging in violence at hospitals. It said to ensure that cases are registered, culprits arrested and conviction assured, mandatory provisions as provided in the POCSO Act should be instituted.

It also called for hospitals to be declared safe zones and that appropriate security should be the responsibility of the state.

However, resident doctors of AIIMS, Delhi, have decided not to join the strike though those in Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, RML Hospital and others will skip work.

On Sunday, agitating doctors agreed to meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee “anytime and anywhere”. The government has proposed a meeting at the Secretariat at 3 PM. Earlier, the junior doctors had refused a closed-door meeting, demanding that media be allowed to telecast it. The state government, however, rejected that call, citing legalities and constitutional propriety.

A senior official was quoted by a leading daily as saying, “We have explained to them that given the issues involved, mainly legal, administrative and security-related, it is impossible for the state government to agree to their demand for an open-door meeting in presence of the media. The CM is also sworn to an oath of secrecy in some such matters. We have explained they have every right to speak to media afterwards, much like the norm in all such cases. They have agreed to it.”

The junior doctors had held a four-hour general body meeting at NRS Hospital. Reports suggest it was split three ways; one section agreed for the Nabanna (Secretariat) meeting, another section stressed on Raj Bhavan as the venue, while the remaining stuck to their demand for NRS Hospital.

In the evening, the doctors gave out a statement. They said, “We are hopeful that our CM will be considerate enough to solve the problems that the state is facing in the healthcare sector currently…We leave the decision to choose the venue to the honourable CM, but it should accommodate representatives of all medical
colleges of West Bengal in sufficient numbers.”