Doctors across government hospitals in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday started an indefinite strike over a host of demands, including facilities for their colleagues posted in rural areas and putting an end to alleged bureaucratic interference.
The agitation is being organised by different medical associations under the umbrella body of Madhya Pradesh Shaskiya Swashasi Chikitsak Mahasangh after failed talks with the government.
Nearly 13,000 doctors are participating in the protest, claimed the Mahasangh. In February too, the doctors had gone on a similar protest. The protest is likely to affect outpatient services and other essential hospital work. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday night held a meeting with the district collectors and divisional commissioners over the impending strike and directed them to ensure the smooth operation of medical facilities in the state, said officials.
After the meeting, Chouhan said in a statement, “Health services are essential services. There should be no hindrance in running such services. Leave no stone unturned for the smooth operation of emergency and critical services. This strike is unethical, there is a provision for action for this. Make necessary arrangements in medical colleges and hospitals and take services of PG doctors.”
The CM asked officials to take the help of private hospitals and said the government will treat such patients (in private hospitals) under the Ayushman Yojana. “Doctors are considered a form of God to save human life. Don’t play with human life,” he said.
In the Bhopal district, the administration has arranged for doctors from private hospitals to run the government medical facilities. Bhopal Collector Ashish Singh told reporters at the state capital’s biggest government-run Hamidia Hospital, “One-hundred-fifty doctors from private hospitals have been called here and they are serving in the outpatient department (OPD) and wards.” Singh said 672 patients are admitted to Hamidia Hospital, where all facilities are running smoothly.
“We have booked 1,500 beds in two private hospitals. Those being shifted from here or being admitted through government ambulances will be treated free of cost in these private hospitals,” the collector said, adding that no patient is facing any problem. Divisional Commissioner of Bhopal division Mal Singh Bhaydiya said that critical patients are being shifted to big private hospitals. According to an office-bearer of Madhya Pradesh Shaskiya Swashasi Chikitsak Mahasangh, which is spearheading the protest, “We had withdrawn our agitation on February 17 on the assurance given by the minister and chief minister. But no change has been made.”
The office-bearer said, “We are fighting this battle for the doctors who are serving in rural areas. They work 7 days a week without taking leave in those areas where no amenities like school and housing exist.”
The demands of the agitating doctors will not put any financial burden on the state, he asserted. Talking about alleged bureaucratic interference in their work, the office-bearer said, “It seems that the administrative officials have held our (health) department hostage.” The CM should intervene to take the health department out of the clutches of administrative officials, he added.