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Resident docs boycott work, hold marches, raise slogans against NMC Bill

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: August 1, 2019  | 14:02 IST

(Eds: Updates with details of protests) New Delhi, Aug 1 (PTI) Resident doctors at several government hospitals, including AIIMS and RML, in Delhi held demonstrations and withdrew all services including that at emergency departments to protest against the National Medical Commission Bill tabled in Rajya Sabha on Thursday. Scores of doctors boycotted work, held marches and raised slogans against the bill, alleging it was "anti-poor, anti-student and undemocratic". They said they will refrain from working in OPDs, emergency departments, ICUs and operation theatres and threatened to continue their protest indefinitely if the bill is passed in Rajya Sabha. Protests by resident doctors and UG students of AIIMS and Safdarjung hopsitals hit traffic on Ring Road this morning. Police stopped them from marching towards Parliament. Resident doctors of Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Hospital, B R Ambedkar Medical College and Hospital, DDU Hospital and Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital have also joined the stir. As the protest by the medical fraternity against the bill gathered momentum, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in a tweet on Wednesday night assured people that the "historic" bill, if passed, would bring "mega changes in the medical education sector". The bill, which seeks to replace the graft-tainted Medical Council of India, was passed by Lok Sabha on Thursday. Resident Doctors' Associations of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and other city hospitals had given notices to their respective administrations regarding the strike on Wednesday. "OPD services are closed and no new cards will be made for any patients. Services are expected to be hit in emergency department too, but we will try to manage," LNJP Medical Superintendent Kishore Singh told PTI. LNJP is the largest facility under the Delhi government. The Indian Medical Association, which has also expressed reservations over several sections of the bill had given a call for a 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services on Wednesday across the country. In a statement it has warned the government of intensifying the agitation if the grievances of the medical fraternity are not addressed. R V Ashokan, the IMA secretary general, announced his support to the resident doctors. Following the strike notice, several hospital authorities have put in place contingency plans for the smooth functioning of healthcare services as a part of which emergency services functioned with the help of sponsored residents/pool officers and faculty members. Faculty members of other medical/surgical departments wherever applicable will were deployed in the emergency while ICUs are being managed with the help of sponsored residents/pool officers and faculty members. The out-patient department (OPD), dialysis, radio-diagnosis and laboratory diagnosis services are functioning on a restricted basis while routine operation theatre services remained largely suspended. "The provisions of the said bill are nothing short of draconian and promote gross incompetence and mockery of professionals currently working day and night and sacrificing their youth for this broken system." "If it is tabled in its current form in Rajya Sabha without any amendments, the medical fraternity across the country will be forced to resort to extreme measures, which may hamper healthcare services nationwide. We will withdraw from essential and non-essential services from hospitals for an indefinite period," the AIIMS RDA, the FORDA and the Untied-RDA said in a joint statement. It provides for setting up of a National Medical Commission in place of the MCI for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions. The fraternity claims that the bill will encourage quackery. Doctors are demanding certain amendments in the bill. According to them, if not amended, the bill will lead to deterioration of medical education and degradation of healthcare services. They are objecting to section 45 of the bill, which, they claim, empowers the Union government to override any suggestion of the National Medical Commission. PTI PLB/KND PLB ABH ABH

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