Kolkata doctors strike enters 16th day, medicos refuse to call off stir
Kolkata: The relay hunger strike observed by junior doctors and medical students of RG Kar Medical College and Hospital (RGKMC) officially entered its sixteenth day today.The medicos have threatened to continue their strike unless the health department led by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal fulfilled their demands.The junior doctors and medicos of the Kolkata's RGKMC started...
Kolkata: The relay hunger strike observed by junior doctors and medical students of RG Kar Medical College and Hospital (RGKMC) officially entered its sixteenth day today.
The medicos have threatened to continue their strike unless the health department led by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of West Bengal fulfilled their demands.
The junior doctors and medicos of the Kolkata's RGKMC started the protest on October 3 after months of disputes between the interns and the hospital administration over various issues. The major demands of the medicos include:
- the formation of a Democratic Students Council
- the formation of a proper Hostel Development Committee
- Resolution of the problems associated with Hostel Accommodation for girls
- Resignation of the Principal
The Health Department of West Bengal had passed directions to the heads of all departments of the RG Kar Medical College and Hospital on Monday to create a list of interns and postgraduate medicos who are on a strike against the Hospital's principal. The list of medicos was ordered to be sent to the medical superintendent in order to be marked 'absent' if they did not report to duty due to the ongoing strike.
The Health Department also threatened to take legal action against the protestors along with withholding the medical registrations of the medicos if they did not resume their work.
However, the protesting interns and postgraduate trainee doctors of Kolkata's RG Kar Medical College and Hospital had decided to continue with their strike in spite of a warning issued earlier by the West Bengal Health Department to mark them 'absent'.
An official told My Kolkata, "All senior doctors and department heads will talk to the absentees and try to find a way to resolve the crisis."
Many junior doctors alleged that the government was more interested in breaking the strike than addressing their concerns and issues. They also demanded the health secretary NS Nigam hold a meeting with them inside the campus to solve their issues.
According to a recent media report in The Statesman, at a meeting held today by NS Nigam and the director of medical education (DME) Dr. Debashis Bhattacharya, Dr. Ghosh, and heads of around 38 departments of the teaching hospital at Swasthya Bhaban, the health secretary asked the officials to take strong action against the protesters if they refused to withdraw their strike, reported the Statesman.
A representative of the protesting students reportedly told The New Indian Express, "We will continue with our agitation till our demand is fulfilled." An official further told TNIE, "We are trying to convince them (striking doctors) to come and sit for a meeting and call off their agitation. Hopefully, we will find a solution soon."
TOI reports that the students alleged that in place of an apolitical students' council, the Principal of the institution was involved in establishing the Council with students who were attached to a certain political party.
A group of student representatives had initially made a visit to the principal's house to talk to him about their demands, reported The Indian Express. However, a social media video reportedly showed the principal threatening the doctors after which the relay hunger strike was announced by the doctors. The principal had further alleged that 'outsiders' have hijacked the strike.
The daily further reported that the situation turned worse after October 14 when the medicos alleged that they were attacked by some unidentified people during a human chain demonstration held at Belgachia Bridge. After the incident, the junior resident doctors came in support of the interns to boycott duty. Due to this, the officials have alleged that the admission of the patients decreased by half.
Talks between the protesters, the hospital representatives, and the ministers, comprising of Trinamul MLAs Atin Ghosh, Tapas Ray, and Nirmal Majhi, and Trinamul MP Santanu Sen were held on Sunday. However, it failed.
To resolve the breakthrough and to ensure the normalization of medical services at the state-run facilities, a meeting was held on Monday between the health secretary and the director of medical education with five representatives of the medical college, who are also members of a mentor group set up to resolve the issues.
The officials claimed that the government was open to dialogue but not at the cost of services to patients. The medical college representatives were asked to inform the protesting medicos of the pandemic rules that bar doctors from going on strike.
The Trinamool MP Sanatanu Sen, who was present at the meeting held on Sunday stated, "We wanted the agitating students to restore normalcy. We promised to review the situation after a month as we do not want the service to be hampered."
Normal healthcare services in various departments like an emergency, trauma care, maternity, neurology etc have been severely affected due to the strike.
According to a media report in Telegraph India, a few medicos involved with the strike have resumed their work on Tuesday, with many set to resume their duty by Wednesday too. The college authorities reportedly told the agitating doctors that their demand would only be addressed after they resume their work and return to classes. They also added that the decision on the principal's post could not be taken by the junior doctors.
A senior hospital of the mentor group involved in solving the issue said, "Issues related to the girls' hostel and others will be given utmost priority. But junior doctors need to resume duty", adding, "Students and junior doctors can't decide on policy issues. They can't decide who will be the principal of which medical college. That is for the chief minister to decide".