Doctors protest nationwide over Kolkata attack: Read all you need to know

New Delhi: Doctors across India took to the streets and have halted medical services in support of the nationwide protest on Friday to demand protection amidst the ongoing strike by the junior doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital (NRSMCH) in West Bengal.

Striking junior doctors across West Bengal had on Thursday refused to end their stir till their demands for security in government hospitals are met. The agitating doctors also defied a deadline set by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who came down heavily on the protesters alleging that opposition BJP and CPI(M) were provoking them and giving communal colour to the issue.

Here are things you should know about the strike:

The junior doctors have been agitating since Tuesday demanding security for themselves in government hospitals after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured allegedly by relatives of a patient who died at the NRS Medical College and Hospital.

The doctor was allegedly hit with a brick on his head, leaving him with a fractured skull. He has been hospitalised and is in a critical condition.

This sparked major outrage in the medical community, with several doctors from the state of West Bengal threatened to give mass resignation if proper action was not taken to ensure the security and safety of doctors.

The spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors, Dr Arindam Dutta, said that demonstrations will continue till their demands are met.

“The manner in which the chief minister threatened the junior doctors is quite unexpected… This is an insult to our community. We also condemn this… She has to apologise for what she said yesterday. “We are not outsiders and this agitation is spontaneous… We are contemplating mass resignations,” Dutta said.

Mamata Banerjee, who visited the state-run SSKM hospital on Thursday, in the wake of disruption of medical services in several parts of the state, had warned the doctors of action if they did not resume work. She had also alleged that “outsiders” present among the agitating SSKM hospital doctors, “abused” her.

Within hours, social media was flooded with messages of outrage and solidarity with the doctor. Doctors and other members of the medical community tweeted with the hashtag #SaveTheDoctors, stating that they will be boycotting work and standing in support of the young doctor who was attacked and that the protests will continue until action is taken.

Around 4,500 resident doctors in Maharashtra stayed away from work Friday in solidarity with the ongoing junior doctors’ protest in West Bengal. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) said junior doctors at government hospitals in the state will not perform surgeries or attend to out-patient departments (OPDs) between 8 am and 5 pm Friday.

Junior doctors in West Bengal continued with their agitation for the fourth day on Friday, hampering regular services in all state-run medical colleges and hospitals, and a number of private hospitals. However, emergency services were available at one or two hospitals, including Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College and Hospital here, on Friday morning.

Doctors at North Bengal Medical College in Siliguri have also joined the strike as have the medical practitioners affiliated with Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).

The doctors of AIIMS Delhi, meanwhile, halted health services leading to inconvenience to thousands of patients. The Resident Doctors’ Association, Safdarjung Hospital also took out a protest march in the morning.

On Friday, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan met a doctors’ delegation and appealed to them to withdraw the strike. He added that he will write to Chief Ministers of all states and request them to provide a safe environment to doctors.

A new-born child died on Thursday in Agarpara here due to alleged medical negligence amid doctors’ strike across the state. “It is my bad luck. My child died due to lack of treatment. He was not attended by any doctor because of their strike,” baby’s father Abhijit Mallik told reporters.

The Calcutta High Court on Friday refused to pass any interim order on the strike by junior doctors at state-run hospitals in protest against the attack on two of their colleagues by family members of a patient. A division bench comprising Chief Justice TBN Radhakrishnan and Justice Suvra Ghosh asked the state government to persuade the striking doctors to resume work and provide usual services to patients.

Doctors at a Jaipur hospital are carrying out their duty wearing black armbands as a mark of protest over violence against doctors in West Bengal. “This is not a work boycott. The patients are getting their treatment. We are only trying to register our protest against such violence. Even Indian Medical Association (IMA) has condemned the incident in West Bengal,” Dr Vidya Prakash said.

As many as 43 doctors submitted their resignation here on Friday amidst the ongoing strike by the junior doctors in West Bengal. While 27 doctors of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Darjeeling resigned over the violence against doctors in the state, a total of 16 doctors of R. G. Kar Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata also submitted their resignation.