West Bengal: Doctors' strike continues for 5th day, health services disrupted

On Friday night, the striking doctors rejected a proposal from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for talks at the state secretariat Nabanna

Doctors participate in a protest rally in Kolkata

Health services in West Bengal’s state-run hospitals remained partially disrupted on Saturday as the “cease work” by junior doctors, protesting against attacks on their colleagues and demanding adequate security measures, continued for the fifth day.

On Friday night, the striking doctors rejected a proposal from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for talks at the state secretariat Nabanna, and stuck to their demand that she would have to come down to the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the protest movement, to listen to their grievances and apologise for having cast aspersions on them.

Though the out-patient departments remained closed, the emergency services in all the state-run hospitals, including the NRS, were functional on Saturday, doctors said.

“The strike is still on by the junior doctors. However, the emergency departments are open to treat the patients in serious conditions. As of now no decisions have been made regarding holding any meeting with the state administration,” West Bengal Doctors Forum President Arjun Sengupta told IANS.

Meanwhile, Indian Medical Association (IMA) President Santanu Sen on Friday held a meeting with the senior doctors and administrative authorities at the NRS Hospital to find a possible solution to the ongoing impasse.

However, representatives of the agitating doctors claimed that the meeting will not be able to bear a positive outcome for them as Sen is a Rajya Sabha MP of state’s ruling Trinamool Congress.

“He is close to Trinamool Congress, that has tried multiple times to throttle the doctors’ movement. So, I do not think he will try to highlight our problems,” a doctor said on the condition of anonymity.

Following mass resignations by the doctors at several state-run hospitals in Kolkata and the districts on Friday, 34 doctors in Kalyani’s Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital tendered their resignation in solidarity with the movement on Saturday, the hospital authority said.

Five senior doctors led by Sukumar Mukherjee, called on Banerjee at Nabanna on Friday evening and offered to mediate to resolve the stalemate which has completely paralysed medical services in the state.

Following their request, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat invited four members of the striking junior doctors for talks, and Director, Medical Education, Pradip Mitra was rushed to NRS Medical College and Hospital for talks but the medicos said they were not in a position to go, as they would be holding a general body meeting to decide on the issue.

It was then decided that the talks would be deferred to 5 p.m. on Saturday, so as to give time to the quintet of veterans to persuade the young medicos to attend the meeting.

Protesting against the brutal attack on two junior doctors by the family members of a dead patient in the NRS Medical College and Hospital on Monday night, doctors across the state have stopped work at the outpatient departments (OPDs) in most government hospitals in the state since Wednesday.

Banerjee on Thursday afternoon visited Kolkata’s SSKM Hospital where she gave the agitating doctors a four hour ultimatum to the junior doctors to withdraw their ongoing strike and warned of “strong action” if the situation was not normalised within the deadline which was rejected by the agitators.

Doctors at Delhi’s AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital call off strike

Meanwhile, the Resident Doctors Association (RDA) of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi on Saturday called off its day-long strike announced in support of the protesting medicos in West Bengal

Announcing the decision, the RDA gave West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee a 48-hour ultimatum to meet the demands of protesting doctors in her state.

“RDA AIIMS issues an ultimatum of 48 hours to West Bengal government to meet the demands of striking doctors there, failing which we will be forced to resort to an indefinite strike at AIIMS, New Delhi. We hope that our colleagues across the nation will join us in this hour of need,” read a statement from the RDA.

The doctors associated with the Association, however, said that they would continue to wear red-stained bandages and helmets as a sign of protest.

The ultimatum came a day after Banerjee gave the protesting doctors in her state four hours to withdraw their strike and return to work or vacate the hostels.

The doctors of the Safdarjung Hospital too withdrew their strike. However, other hospital associations, including the Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA)went on strike on Saturday as a mark of solidarity with the protesting doctors in West Bengal.

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