Health Ministry warns of punitive action as doctors continue strike

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Doctors and medical students raise slognas during a protest against the passage of NMC Bill, outside AIIMS. Photo: PTI

As doctors of two Centre-run hospitals, AIIMS and Safdarjung, continued to boycott work for the third consecutive day on Saturday (August 3) in protest against the NMC Bill, the Health Ministry warned them of taking punitive action like termination of their service if they do not join duty immediately.

Following the ministry’s direction, the two hospital administrations have issued memorandums to their resident doctors to resume work at their respective departments.

AIIMS resident doctors resumed emergency services around Friday midnight but non-essential services, including OPD services, remained suspended. At Safdarjung Hospital, the doctors did not join duties in any department, including the emergency department.

“All members of RDA and student union are hereby directed to resume their duties in their respective departments with immediate effects, failing which strict disciplinary action like suspension/termination of services, vacation of hostel accommodation etc may be taken,” AIIMS administration said in the memorandum.

Also Read: Resident doctors on strike against NMC bill, withdraw emergency services

Medical students protest at Safdarjung Hospital on Saturday. Photo: PTI

“I have been asked by the ministry to inform you that if the doctors do not resume duties immediately, strong punitive action like suspension/termination of service, evacuation of hostel accommodation will be initiated against all doctors on strike,” Dr Sunil Gupta, medical director at Safdarjung Hospital, said in the memorandum addressed to the hospitals Resident Doctors Association president.

Late night on Friday, doctors said they were resuming emergency services at AIIMS and all hospitals under the umbrella of Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA). However, the RDA of Safdarjung Hospital did not end the strike.

Heavy police deployment outside AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital

On Saturday, a heavy police deployment was made outside AIIMS and at Safdarjung Hospital, across the road, after the doctors protesting against the National Medical Council Bill got agitated on hearing about the warning.

A senior police official said the “situation is under control” and police officials were trying to maintain peace and regulate the traffic in the area.

The doctors claim some provisions in the NMC Bill are “anti-poor, anti-student and undemocratic”.

Also Read: Doctors threaten indefinite strike against National Medical Commission Bill

Dr Prakash Thakur, RDA-President, Safdarjung Hospital, said the protest will continue. “This is unfortunate that majority of services including emergency healthcare facilities are not functioning at Safdarjung Hospital. We see a footfall of around 10,000 patients per day. Patients are suffering because of the strike,” Gupta added.

A member of the AIIMS resident doctors association said they request the President of India to intervene and make necessary amendments in the Bill in the interest of patients and doctors.

On Friday, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had appealed to the doctors to end their strike following a meeting with them at Nirman Bhawan.