Updated – Mar 23, 2017
MUMBAI: Defying threats of suspension and termination, over 4,000 student doctors of Maharashtra have decided to continue their stir, which on Thursday will enter its fourth day. The strike is set to intensify and take a pan-India colour with 40,000 doctors from the Indian Medical Association and resident doctors from Delhi lending their support to protest against violence against the fraternity. In several Mumbai centres, radiological and pathological services too may remain unavailable for cases other than emergencies.
The IMA has urged the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India, Indian Academy of Paediatricians, and the Maharashtra Association of Gazetted Medical Officers to join the strike. Teachers, who have been running the show, have said they will only carry out emergency services.
To add to the state’s embarrassment and perhaps anger, medical education minister Girish Mahajan announced on Wednesday evening after a two-hour meeting at Vidhan Bhavan that the doctors had withdrawn their “mass leave” and were to resume work. Soon after, the doctors refuted the state’s claim and said the talks were unsuccessful.
At one stage the doctors were indeed considering calling off the strike when a fresh attack on a doctor at Sion Hospital (see box) resulted in a change of mind.
In a late-night development, striking Sion and KEM Hospital doctors were served eviction notices and directed to vacate their hostels.
The state wanted at least a week’s time to arrange for security personnel, but the doctors insisted on their demand being met within four days.
A resident doctor told TOI, “Till our security demands are met and changes are visible on the ground, the mass leaves will continue.” Mahajan, later in the evening, issued another warning: “If doctors fail to resume work by Thursday morning, they would lose their stipend for six months.” The medical education department had earlier said it wouldn’t hesitate to terminate the residency of doctors.
But the doctors became even more resolute to continue their strike after a fresh case of assault on a female doctor was reported from Sion Hospital late on Wednesday. This would be the sixth case of manhandling of a medical person to be reported from a public medical college in the state in ten days. IMA member Dr Shivkumar Utture said it was unfortunate that the state was threatening to terminate doctors rather than finding ways to meet their security needs
Utture said that all dispensaries and outpatient departments in small hospitals will be shut. Whether it will affect private hospital OPDs will be clear only on Thursday.