The Showdown Between Medics and the Government
M3 India Newsdesk Mar 23, 2017
Due to an increase in physical assaults by patient’s relatives, around 40,000 doctors from Maharashtra state have gone on a mass casual leave. The protest is initiated by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) along with the Maharashtra Association of Practising Pathologists and Microbiologists (MAPPM).
Recently, Maharashtra has witnessed seven assaults on doctors in one week, and it feels like there’s an epidemic in the air. IMA Youth Wing President and Former President of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors, Dr Sagar Mundada agrees.
“Not long ago, a physician lost his vision in one eye post getting assaulted. Also, a hospital in Sangli got ransacked and the staff beaten up by the mob. Such incidences have taken place in Dhule, Nasik, Aurangabad, Thane, Sion and of course Sangli", he adds.
Unarguably, the healthcare services in the state have been affected and as a result adversely impacting patients, but doctors refuse to budge from their stand as they demand stricter laws, better security against attacks. We spoke to Dr KK Aggarwal, National President of IMA, Padma Shri recipient and he’s extremely disappointed with the non-cooperation from the government. “If the demands of the doctors are not met, we will be forced to call a strike nationally”, he says.
The Lack of Action
In hindsight, the lack of any concrete measures taken by the government to protect the safety of the doctors is adding fuel to the fire. To top that off, forcing physicians to get back to work by threatening with suspension and pay cut has nt gone down well. Per Dr Shivkumar Utture, Executive Member of Maharashtra’s Medical Council and Senior IMA member, in the last two years the state has witnessed around 51 attacks on doctors, of which only 35 cases were recorded.
“However, there is still no conclusion in all these cases. Now instead of helping the resident physicians, Girish Mahajan has threatened the doctors by announcing to slash down six months’ pay if any resident is found supporting the mass bunk or stays off work. We have decided to continue the strike till the government withdraws its decision”, he added.
A quick and fair resolution is the need of the hour, and thus, no stone is left unturned by the senior doctors. National Association’s President of Hospital Wing, Dr Nitin Bhagali has already taken several measures such as writing to the Prime Minister citing unhappiness about the recent happenings in Maharashtra. He also states that only young doctors mainly from government hospitals are facing the brunt of the angered mob and if this continues, the regulatory failure will encourage meritorious students "to take up jobs in foreign countries further adding to the poor doctor-patient ratio”. When asked about the reasons behind this escalation of violence in recent years, he feels that a decline in number of Family Physicicians and the "death" of the concept itself is one of the reasons to blame, as this has resulted in poor trust factor between Doctors and patients.
So, immediate steps are needed before the situation worsens, and the doctors are staying firm in their demands. Thankfully for them, there is plenty of support as MAPPM has decided to join the strike. “Doctors anyways work in poor conditions, and the issue of violence has escalated in recent years.This needs to be taken up seriously", said Dr Sandeep Yadav, President, MAPPM.
The crisis in Maharashtra is likely to spread to ther parts of the country, if immediate actions are not taken. It remains to be seen as to who emerges victorious from this showdown.
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