Private hospitals across Karnataka, including Bengaluru would reopen their Out Patient Departments (OPDs) on Friday on the advice of the Karnataka High Court on Thursday, said two officials of the medical associations.
"OPDs in all private hospitals across Bengaluru will re-open on Friday as advised by the High Court bench," state Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) President-elect C. Jayanna told IANS in Bengaluru
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), filed by an advocate (NP Amruthesh) against the doctors' strike on Wednesday, a division bench of the High Court headed by Acting Chief Justice HG Ramesh and Justice PS Dinesh Kumar directed the private doctors and their associations to withdraw the strike and restore the OPD services from Friday.
Hundreds of private hospitals across the state on Thursday shut their OPDs again as thousands of doctors intensified their strike against the penal provisions in the amendment bill to the KPME Act drafted by the government.
The four-day strike began on Tuesday. The OPDs were also shut on November 3.
"The OPDs in all private hospitals across the state will function normally from Friday, as we do not want patients to be affected. We have given an assurance to the High Court bench to keep the OPDs open," Indian Medical Association's (IMA) Karnataka Chapter Secretary B. Veeranna told IANS.
Though the bench said it could pass an order, it was refraining, giving time for the doctors to withdraw their strike and directed the state government to address their demands on the stringent provisions in the amendment bill to the Karnataka Private Health Establishment Act, 2007.
"The state Advocate General (Madhusudan Naik) has submitted a letter to the bench from the Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) assuring the High Court that the state government would discuss the provisions of the amendment bill with the representatives of the doctors association on Friday at Belagavi," said Veeranna quoting Naik.
The Chief Minister also assured the High Court the amendment bill would be tabled in the legislative assembly only after discussing its provisions with all the stakeholders, including the doctors, the legislative select committee members and the lawmakers.
The bench adjourned the case for further hearing to Friday.
The state government had included stringent provisions in the amendment bill to regulate the functioning of private hospitals, including their costs of treatment and redressing the grievances of their patients.
Of the registered 1.25 lakh doctors in the state, only about 10,000 work in the state-run hospitals, while over a lakh are employed in about 40,000 private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.
The private doctors are staging the hunger strike at Belagavi, about 500 km from Bengaluru, where the 10-day winter session of the legislature began on Monday.
The four main demands are inclusion of government doctors under the KPME Act, no grievances redressal committees, no penalty on erring doctors or their imprisonment for the death of any patient due to medical negligence and ceiling on cost of treatment only for government health schemes under which eligible patients are treated in private hospitals or clinics.
Government hospitals in Udupi, Yadgir and Kalaburgi reported a drastic increase in the number of patients visiting the out-patient department on Thursday. The Deccan Herald reported nine more deaths due to the non-availability of medical services in North Karnataka.
Villagers in Mandya meanwhile took to the streets in support of the proposed KPMEA bill.
With inputs from IANS