Bengaluru: State health minister's penchant for lashing out at doctors has irked many in the profession, with a city-based doctor starting an online petition asking the governor to sack him.
The petition by Dr Ravindra R., Medical Director, Suguna Hospital, who is also the Secretary of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), reads, “Honourable Governor, please dismiss the Health Minister of Karnataka – Mr Ramesh Kumar." It has also been addressed to the chief minister, Indian Medical Association, Karnataka Orthopaedic Association, FOGSI Karnataka, Association of Physicians, Surgical Society- Karnataka, PHANA, AHPI, NATHEALTH and KPMEA. The petition that was started three days ago has already received close to 5,000 signatures.
“It is not the first time he is abusing doctors. We met him and the chief minister and raised this concern. If some doctor is guilty of negligence or any other offence, the minister can always take the legal route and take action against him. But, making snide comments likening us to barbers and pickpockets is unacceptable," said Dr Ravindra.
The minister has had other instances of badmouthing doctors as well. “Of late, the minister, out of his ignorance, lack of social responsibility, leadership and desperation, bordering on insanity, is giving unwarranted / unsubstantiated and irresponsible press statements that are demeaning and detrimental to the noble profession of medicine. These statements are instigating unrest and undermining the very trust between doctors and patients. He has been comparing doctors to prostitutes, barbers and pickpockets, which is unbecoming of a minister,” reads the petition.
Commenting on the complaint, another doctor has said, “The minister's views are unreasonable. He has no answer to the failing public healthcare system and wants to shift the blame to private healthcare. He is a disgrace to his position and his policies can cause long-term damage to the medical profession."
Health activists, however, are looking at it differently, “It would be interesting to see the breakup of the 4,500 people who have signed the petition. It is highly likely that it will have zero representation from patients and those who access healthcare. It is doubtful it would have government doctors either. It would comprise entirely the same group that has been protesting in a loud voice against Amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act 2013. This group, instead of looking out for patient’s rights, seems to be sitting at the polemic opposite end, having gotten used to the exploitation of the government as well as patients," asserts Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a health activist.