Maharashtra govt blames doctors' strike for death of several newborns

Aug 06, 2014, 20:21 IST | PTI

The state government informs the Bombay High Court that hundreds of people, including several newborn children, died in hospitals in the absence of facilities due to doctors' strike between July 1 and 7

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said that it was sad to find that several newborn children were among those who died during the week-long strike by the doctors in the state last month.

The observation was made by a bench headed by Justice Naresh Patil while going through a state government affidavit in reply to a PIL filed by advocate Gunratan Sadavarte claiming that several persons had died as no doctor was available to attend to them during the strike period.

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The state government also made a statement that the doctors' strike was illegal and that it would deduct the wages of those who had not reported on duty.

The state informed that 234 persons had died in hospitals in the absence of facilities due to doctors' strike.

MAGMO president Rajesh Gaikwad, who had been on hunger strike for six days, broke his fast by accepting juice offered to him by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on July 7. 

The state said two committees had been formed to tackle the strike. One was headed by Dr Archana Patil and had five doctors and one IAS officer as its members. This body will visit All India Institute of Medical Sciences to study the mechanism and preventive measures to tackle strikes.

The other committee would be headed by collectors of various districts who would examine the death of persons due to the recent doctors strike in the state.

The petitioner, however, was of the opinion that such committee should be headed by a retired judge to go into the issue. However, the court said it would first go through the report of the committee and if it was not satisfied it may order constitution of a fresh committee.

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On going through the state's affidavit, the court expressed concern over the death of new born children, senior citizens due to cardiac arrest and victims of snake bites.

The court had earlier suggested that the government evolve a permanent mechanism to deal with strikes of doctors.

Earlier this month, the court had rapped the state over its failure to deal with the strike and sought to know whether departmental action had been taken against the doctors who went on strike between July 1 and 7.

The Class II doctors from the Maharashtra Association of Gazetted Medical Officers (MAGMO) had been on an indefinite strike since July 1. 

MAGMO consists of a mix of MBBS, Ayurvedic and specialist postgraduate doctors, over half of whom are in permanent service, while the rest are employed on contractual basis. They serve in 34 district hospitals, 80 sub-district hospitals and 363 rural hospitals across the state in National Rural Health Mission, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram and mobile medical units.

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