Kolkata: Junior doctors in West Bengal ended their seven-day strike on Monday after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee climbed down from her high perch and assured them that all concerns about security at work will be addressed.
A full seven days after the strike — which began after two junior doctors were grievously injured by relatives of a dead patient in a government hospital — both doctors and CM Mamata found common ground to work out their issues. Mamata had within two days of the strike had given doctors an ultimatum of four hours to join which was rebuffed by those on strike.
On Monday, a much calmer chief minister told a delegation of 32 doctors that she was with them and understood their problems about security in government hospitals.
Their demands included:
- Protection: The doctors have asked for added protection. CM Mamata Banerjee in reply to this has said that she has commissioned the PWD to create more collapsible gates for added protection. She also mentioned surveillance infrastructure will also be provided. Kolkata's new police commissioner Anuj Sharma said that nearly 900 police force has been deployed for this alone. He also mentioned that he is now working on access control in hospitals, working along with health department to control who comes in and goes out of the hospital compound for added security. CM Mamata also said there will be a nodal officer appointed who will take upon the responsibilities of all the hospitals.
- Patient identification through Aadhaar and PAN cards, online booking systems for government hospitals to be put into place. The CM agreed to this.
- All district medical and dental colleges sanctioned infrastructural facilities to be made known within 7 days.
- 'We are professionals who want to work in a professional environment'
- Implementation of a 'grievance redressal cell' for more transparent accountability, and access to multiple region. CM Mamata Banerjee asked her department heads to look into this point and ensure quick implementation.
- Medical students also asked for the construction of hostels near the colleges, the absence of which caused a lot of problems - to which CM Mamata Banerjee commissioned its construction wherever possible.
- CM Mamata Banerjee also called for the immediate implementation of sanctioned plans for improvement of hospitals, and provision of medical equipments.
- Implementation of a 'panic button' or alarm system to ensure quick response to incidents - the CM approved of it and asked for it's implementation.
CM Mamata Banerjee also expressed her condemnation of the two junior doctors who had been the victims of the assault. She also mentioned that the government had immediately taken responsibility for their treatment.
Another demand doctors have is surveillance infrastructure to monitor hospital spaces and stop untoward incidents.
Doctors also want patients to be aware of what is free and not free in government medical care so that there is no confusion between hospital staff and patients. They want the process to be transparent.
Doctors mentioned there were two categories of demands, one which, if fulfilled, the doctors would call off the strike immediately, resuming their duties. And the other section includes policies that are for the longer run, to be discussed in more detail.
West Bengal doctors have now been on strike for seven days and it seems there is no solution in sight. It all began with the attack on junior doctors Paribaha Mukhopadhyay and Yash Tekwani in the Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College and Hospital.
The protests soon spread across the medical fraternity in West Bengal and gradually, all over the country. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had warned doctors to resume services or face stern action.
In a conversation with a doctor, who is directly involved with the protests, it emerged what had actually happened on the night of Monday, June 10.
The ruckus began when one patient passed away in the hospital. People related to the patient hastily threatened the doctors and went away.
By midnight, people began assembling around the gates of the college and the doctors, seeing the crowd growing, called the police to handle the situation. The police did come, and closed the gates of the college compound. By around 2 am in the night, nearly two hundred people had turned up outside the gates and had started pelting rocks.
Soon, they broke open the gates and violence ensued leading to the attacks on Paribaha Mukhopadhyay and Yash Tekwani.
The doctor interviewed mentioned that was the point from which the agitation began. Violence against doctors wasn’t new in the state and there was already a rising resentment among the medical fraternity for a very long time which eventually evolved into the protest that we see today....