People who assault nurses, doctors and paramedics will face up to 14 years in prison under tough new Queensland (Australian Province) laws.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg said thousands of health workers are punched, stabbed, bitten and spat on every year in Queensland during their daily duties.

“Assaults, whether they are physical or verbal, on our health workers will not be tolerated and the Queensland Government is appalled that even one nurse, doctor or paramedic is attacked,” he said.

“It is inexcusable and shameful behaviour.”

More than 24,500 health care employees have reported being a victim of a violent incident at work in the past five financial years.

More than 4,400 health workers in the last financial year alone were victims of violence in their workplace.

“If you think it is okay to assault our health workers, we’ll give you up to 14 years to think again,” Mr Springborg said.

“It is simply not acceptable and that is why we have doubled the penalty.”

The laws were introduced as part of the Government’s Safe Night Out Strategy.

Situation in India is the Worst

Our cursory study and the examples of the four countries cited clearly indicate that India is the worst sufferer where violence against Doctors, nurses and hospitals is concerned.

Some of the obvious reasons seem to be:

Abysmal public spending on Health care – It is merely 1.2% of our GDP

The public expenditure on health is estimated to be around 1.2% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the government’s own documents like the draft National Health Policy 2015, 12th Five year Plan and even the 11th Five year plan explicitly stated lofty targets like 2.5% health spending. The governments of the day have been unable to provide a policy direction, which could possibly improve the pathetic state of public health systems in the country.

India made phenomenal economic gains in the last three decades, but has failed to improve the health status of its population on similar terms. Infant mortality, under-five mortality and maternal mortality rates of the country are still comparable with statistics coming out from other south Asian nations or countries from sub-Saharan Africa. As per World Bank estimates, the per capita healthcare expenditure in India is around USD 60, and this has been stagnant over the last decade or so. This sum is paltry when compared to indicators from China (around USD 300) or Brazil (around USD 1000), not to mention developed countries of Western Europe or North America.

Overworked Resident and other Doctors in Government Hospitals

The situation in our ‘progressive state of Maharashtra’ is so bad that Resident Docs in Govt. hospitals had to approach the Human Rights Commission for redressal!

In a letter to MSHRC, the resident doctors said they have to work for around 30 to 36 hours at a stretch at medical colleges. Long-working hours, irregular sleep and poor food hygiene are making doctors fall ill, according to MARD.

Even the Supreme Court of India had taken cognizance of the matter.

As per the directives of the Supreme Court, in a judgment dated September 25, 1987, all the state governments, medical institutions and universities were required to amend their rules and regulations to introduce a uniform residency scheme by 1993.

Subsequently, the union health ministry sent its directive, in a letter dated June 5, 1992, to all the states and union territories administrations regarding implementation of the Uniform Central Residency Scheme. But many states are reportedly yet to take necessary actions to follow the said directive.

As Dr Sagar Mundada, president, Central MARD, said ” we are on duty 24*7. We cannot sleep, we cannot go home, we can do nothing else. This is inhuman.”

Where private health care is concerned, medical diagnostic tests are so expensive, and getting more so, that patients blame doctors and hospitals of profiteering.

Stories of ‘rackets’ and kick backs between Doctors had become rampant some decades ago. Patients have become cleverer and wiser now, they decide which lab or Disgnostic centre they will go to, yet the perception prevails.

Yes – we have to agree, there is a Trust Deficit, for which all of us are responsible – the Government, the people and also Hospitals to some extent.

But the most burning issue right now is security to our Doctors and Hospitals and sincerity from Govts is completely lacking in tackling it.

Speaking of the ongoing situation in our state, why is our Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis silent on this issue? He is Home Minister too, so responsible for law and order.

Just taking punitive action against striking doctors will not solve the problem now.

Our Doctors are all angry, very angry indeed.

It is time to take notice.

Courtesy: Nagpur Today