Millennium Post

Doctors can't stop emergency services: Mamata

Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday sent a strong message to the junior doctors observing ceasework at NRS Medical College and Hospital for three consecutive days and said that strict steps would be taken against them if they do not join their duty within a stipulated time.

"A doctor's job is to serve the people. They cannot stop emergency services at the hospitals. If they continue the agitation, we would take steps as per the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA). The Supreme Court has a ruling which says that emergency services cannot be curbed by the doctors. The junior doctors continuing the ceasework would not be given government facilities and they should vacate their hostels," Banerjee said.

Meanwhile, due to the prolonged strike of the doctors, two patients have died at SSKM Hospital and College of Medicine and Sagore Dutta Hospital in the past 24 hours. Banerjee paid a visit to SSKM Hospital on Thursday morning and met the patients and their family members at the emergency ward.

Some junior doctors were also continuing ceasework at SSKM Hospital, showing solidarity with the junior doctors of NRS Medical College and Hospital. As a result, health services at the emergency ward and outpatient department of SSKM were affected. The junior doctors at SSKM lifted their ceasework at around 2 pm, following the Chief Minister's intervention. She has also spoken to the senior officials of the hospital. Some of the agitating doctors shouted slogans when she was about to enter the emergency ward.

While visiting SSKM Hospital in the morning, Banerjee issued an ultimatum to the junior doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital, saying that steps would be taken within a day against the junior doctors denying health services as per the provisions in the ESMA.

She also said that the agitating doctors would have to vacate their hostels if they do not resume their work. The junior doctors at NRS, however, remained unmoved despite the Chief Minister's words and threatened to continue their strike until their demands are met.

As a result, the impasse seems here to stay with absolute anarchy prevailing at NRS. The junior doctors of the hospital said that Banerjee must meet them and provide assurance that incidents of assault on doctors would no longer take place. They also demanded an infrastructural revamp and an increase in the number of doctors in the hospitals.

During her visit to SSKM, Banerjee reminded that the shutdown of emergency health services has been affecting the poor patients. She also said that the state government has already taken steps and arrested five persons for attacking the junior doctors.

The Chief Minister stated that she wanted to talk to the agitating doctors but they refused to talk to her. Later in the day, she issued a press statement urging the junior doctors to take care of the poor people coming to the hospitals. "Hospitals must run smoothly and peacefully," reads the statement.

A team of junior doctors also met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi on Thursday afternoon and placed their demands in this regard. Later in the day, some senior doctors and nursing staff members at SSKM staged a sit-in demonstration in support of the demands of the junior doctors at NRS.

"Nobody encourages an incident of violence. We are conducting inquiry into the incident. A probe would be conducted against the junior doctors and the patient's relatives as both were involved in the violence," Banerjee maintained.

She also took a dig at BJP and CPI(M) for fanning violence. She alleged that the saffron party has been trying to spread communal tension and added that some outsiders were involved in the incident. "Critical patients have been denied treatment for the past 4 days. Hospital is not the place to do politics," Banerjee said.

She also accused the Union Home Ministry of engaging BJP cadres to spread communal tension and doing propaganda through social media.

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