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Medicare services disrupted in West Bengal for second day

PTI Jun 13, 2019

Medicare services across West Bengal remained disrupted for the second day on June 12 as junior doctors in government and private hospitals continued their strike demanding fool-proof security following an assault on them by a mob after the death of a patient.

The incident of assault took place at a state-run medical college and hospital on June 10 night, leaving an intern seriously injured and the strike, which was initiated there, spread to medical institutions in the districts. Emergency wards, outdoor facilities, pathological units of most of the state-run medical college hospitals and a number of private medical facilities in the state remained closed.

However, services in the indoor patient department were not affected, sources said. The state government asked the junior doctors to withdraw the strike and resume their duties, but the agitators were in no mood to relent and demanded intervention of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who also holds the health and family welfare portfolio.

"This (assault on doctors by patients' relatives) cannot continue. We have no security and the police also do not pay heed to our complaints. This situation must be put to an end. We want an assurance from the chief minister. Until then we will continue our strike," a junior doctor belonging to the ESIC Medical College and Hospital said.

Junior doctors, who garnered support from their senior colleagues, were on a sit-in-at the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the place of Monday night's incident. They are demanding enhanced security for all doctors and punishment for the policemen who allegedly baton charged them during the clash with family members of a patient who died due to alleged medical negligence.

Senior state ministers including Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya, had held several rounds of meeting with the agitating doctors on June 11 but failed to persuade them to resume work. On June 12 night, the department of health and family welfare issued a statement appealing to the protesting junior doctors to "immediately withdraw the agitation and restore normalcy in the essential service to the citizens at the earliest".

The statement said the chief minister has been "personally monitoring the entire situation and issuing instructions to the officials concerned for taking action from time to time". "We are trying to persuade them to resume work as quickly as possible. This agitation is causing much problem to the patients in Kolkata and the entire state," a senior health department official said.

Meanwhile, the condition of injured junior doctor Paribaha Mukhopadhaya was stated to be stable. "Mukhopadhaya is recuperating. He has taken food by himself. He is still at the ITU. Hopefully we will be able to shift him to the general ward tomorrow," Neuro surgeon Dr Partha Ghosh, who is attending to him, told PTI.

He suffered a depressed fracture in the right frontal lobe of the skull during the clash with family members of Mohammed Shahid, the 77-year-old patient who died on night. Five persons were arrested in connection with the clash, police said.

After failing to get services in the hospital, relatives of the patients, many of whom have come from far-flung areas, also get agitated. They put up a road blockade near the state run SSKM Hospital in the city for sometime demanding immediate restoration of normalcy in the hospitals.

The situation took a violent turn in Burdwan Medical College and Hospital in East Burdwan district, where the doctors on strike closed the gates of the facility. A mob threw brickbats on agitating doctors while they were demonstrating near the closed gate injuring two persons.

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