Some government hospitals in Bengaluru saw more patients than usual on Friday, as doctors from private medical establishments went on strike. Except for the doctors and nurses in-charge of the emergency ward, private hospitals across the state were non-functional to protest against the provisions in the upcoming Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Bill.
The State Health Commissioner, according to a notification sent to all government health centers earlier this week, cancelled the leaves of government doctors, medical and paramedical staff on Friday and asked everyone to report to work at Primary Health Centres, Taluk and district hospitals.
Sources at Victoria Hospital reported an increase in the number of patients visiting on Friday. “Our administrative officer reminded us to be prepared for today. Everyone - from doctors and nurses to administrative officials were told in advance, and as expected, we can see an increase in the number of patients in the OPD today,” said an official at the Victoria Hospital, who did not wish to be named.
The Resident Medical Officer(RMO) at the Sir CV Raman General Hospital in Indiranagar also said that since they received the notification on Wednesday, the hospital staff had been specifically asked report for duty today. “We are equipped to deal with the intake of patients,” said the RMO. However, he added that the number of patients were no more than usual at the hospital.
Private medical practitioners in over 45,000 medical establishments in the state went on strike to protest against the proposed provisions of the bill, which include levying fines, imprisonment of doctors for mistreatment and fixed charges for specific procedures, among other clauses.
The bill is likely to be tabled in the Karnataka Assembly soon, and the state government has claimed that it aims to make private healthcare affordable and better regulated, for the benefit of the common people.
Proponents of the bill, including activists from several organisations, held a press conference on Friday, hitting back at the decision of doctors to go on strike.
“They are not ready to discuss the issue with the government. The price of healthcare is sky high, and there is a need to regulate it. There is also a need for grievance redressal committees, as there is no mechanism for patients to counter gross violations by private hospitals,” said Vinay Sreenivasa, part of the Alternative Law Forum speaking at the press conference at the Press Club.