Thousands of doctors across Bengaluru will shut their out-patient department services indefinitely from Thursday, attending only emergency cases in multi-speciality hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres.
The doctors are protesting against a proposed amendment to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, 2007, which intends to regulate their functioning.
Announcing the strike, C Jayanna, president-elect of Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA), told reporters, "There are 22,000 doctors in Bengaluru, who will close outpatient services from tomorrow. However, emergency services, selective surgeries, dialysis and deliveries will be carried out...This Act, if passed, will wreck havoc. We briefed the government and health minister, but no one heeded to our plea."
"The state government must set aside the proposed amendments as they are draconian. Our intention is not to cause inconvenience to patients, but we've been pushed to the wall," he added.
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 the government health schemes under which eligible patients are treated in private hospitals or clinics.
According to IMA's Karnataka Chapter President HN Ravindra, nearly 76% of patients under the government health schemes are refereed to private hospitals or clinics, as state-run hospitals lack expertise and facilities to treat them for various diseases.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah took to Twitter and said that he was willing to talk to stakeholders.
I met a group of doctors at Belagavi & assured them that govt will hear them before the KPME Bill is introduced again. I appealed to them to withdraw their strike. Yet, the strike is ongoing & continues to put people to inconvenience. /1â€” Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) November 16, 2017
The KPME Act 2007 is already in force. Govt wants to amend the Act of 2007 to provide for a grievance redressal mechanism, price control & a patientâ€™s charter. The amendments are in public interest. However, we are also willing to address the concerns of doctors & hospitals. /2â€” Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) November 16, 2017
When the Bill is not introduced, when we are willing to talk to stakeholders, I am surprised by the unilateral decision of IMA to continue the strike & disrupt healthcare services. Once again, I request IMA to show responsibility, be true to the noble profession & talk to us. /3â€” Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) November 16, 2017
Opposition parties are being opportunistic & encouraging doctors to continue the strike. @BSYBJP has even promised to repeal KPME Act. If he wants to stand against the poor & needy patients,that is his choice. I appeal to the doctors not to fall prey to opportunistic politics.4/4â€” Siddaramaiah (@siddaramaiah) November 16, 2017
Earlier this week, Karnataka Health Minister KR Ramesh Kumar said that the KMPE 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,â€ť the minister said.
He also said that he will resign from his position if the bill is going to make the situation worse.
â€śEveryone'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,â€ť the minister added.