Karnataka Health Minister KR Ramesh Kumar on Tuesday apologised for the deaths that took place purportedly due to the statewide strike conducted by private medical practitioners.
At the ongoing Assembly session, the Health Minister made the statement while replying to Leader of Opposition KS Eshwarappa at the Legislative Council.
"I have read in the media that three people have died due to the strike by doctors of private hospitals. If this is true, then as a citizen and a human being, I would like to apologise to families of those who lost their loved ones," the minister said.
The minister, however, maintained that the the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment (Amendment) bill, against which the doctors are striking, is for the benefit of the people and not against private medical establishments. He claimed that inputs from doctors have also been taken into account.
"This bill is not against doctors, or private medical establishments. As a people's government, we are only attempting to do our job responsibly. When the bill was drafted, we gave it to the doctors and they suggested some changes,” the minister added.
He also said that he will resign from his position if the bill is going to make the situation worse.
“Everyone's views should be taken before making a decision. Once all views are taken, if the conclusion is that it will adversely affect the people, doctors will resign and everyone will die, then I will resign from my post,” the minister said.
According to TV reports, six persons have died as a result of these protests. However there is no official confirmation if the patients died due to the protests. Two persons have died in Belagavi district alone while Haasan, Koppal, Bagalkot and Dharwad districts have seen one casualty each.
The doctors protesting under the umbrella of the Indian Medical Association had said that their protests will only affect the out-patient departments while emergency and ongoing treatment will go on as it is.
The doctors are protesting against the state government which is set to introduce the Karnataka Private Medical Establishment (Amendment) bill. The doctors have been firmly opposed to the bill on various accounts. They categorically oppose the provisions where a doctor can be imprisoned. The capping of prices for medical services and setting up a new district-level grievance redressal forum are the other major objections that the doctors have.
However, activists have maintained the bill is necessary to regulate private medical healthcare for the benefit of the common man.