40,000 doctors to go on strike today

Jun 25, 2012, 06:52 IST | A Correspondent

In protest against a bill that may increase medical costs, doctors in city are expected to go on strike; BMC hospitals will operate as usual

Medical services in Mumbai are likely to remain paralysed today, while doctors affiliated with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) go on a daylong nationwide strike to protest the proposed amendments to Acts related to clinical establishment and private practice. However, civic hospital doctors will participate in the strike only by wearing black ribbons to show their support.

No medical aid here: All private practitioners supporting the protest will keep their dispensaries closed today. Representation pic 

 The IMA, who is calling a nationwide strike to oppose the implementation of the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010, and the introduction of the National Council for Human Resources in Health Bill, 2011, will get support from the city’s BMC doctors, though not in the way they hoped.

There are 10,000 IMA members in the state and around 35,000 members in other doctors associations. So more than 40,000 doctors will go on strike to oppose the Clinical Establishment Act because of which the cost of treatment may increase. The IMA is opposing the Act primarily on two grounds. The Act requires that a minimal land of 500 sq ft is required to open a private nursing home, which puts many of the currently running clinics in direct violation. Another issue is governing by non-medicos. According to the Act, members of the body governing the nursing homes will be nominated by people with non-medical backgrounds.

Private practices shut
Though private practitioners are claiming that they will handle emergency services, routine services will not be conducted, and scheduled surgeries have been postponed. Dr Alka Mehta, president of IMA, Mumbai (West branch), said, “All private practitioners from Ayurvedic to homeopaths across the city are supporting the strike called by IMA. However, emergency cases will be taken care of. Doctors from the civic hospitals will show their support by wearing black ribbons.” Dr Jayesh Lele, state secretary of IMA, said, “If the government goes ahead in implementing the Clinical Establishment Act, it may affect patients due to increase in medical costs. Why should patients suffer?”

Civic hospitals unaffected
Dr Sanjay Oak, director, Medical Health services (BMC), said, “No doctors will tie black bands, and will continue to work. It is the need of the society that major hospitals continue to function.”

Echoing the sentiments of Oak, Sandhya Kamat, Dean of LTMG Sion hospital, said, “Our hospital doctors are not going on strike and neither will they be tying black ribbons to show their support. Our hospital will run smoothly.”

Reasons for strike
IMA is protesting against implementation of the Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010 (CEA), and introduction of the National Council for Human Resources in Health Bill, 2011 (NCHRH). The other issue includes abolishing all existing medical councils and giving overarching powers to one authority, a body of nominated members who might not hail from a medical background. At present, there are 31 governing bodies like Medical Council of India, Dental Council and Nursing Council of India. The proposed bill plans to bring all of them under one umbrella including those services which have not been regulated till now, like laboratory technicians and other paramedics. They are opposing a clause that makes it mandatory for all clinics to attend emergency cases, and if a case goes wrong, they are liable to pay Rs 5 lakh.

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