Insights into Editorial: Case for compassion
The standoff in West Bengal hospitals over an attack on doctors snowballed as doctors in several states began protests in solidarity with their agitating colleagues, and the Indian Medical Association announced a nationwide strike on June 17.
In West Bengal, the crisis deepened as hundreds of senior doctors of different medical colleges and hospitals submitted resignations en masse to the health department but these were not accepted.
The Calcutta High Court refused to pass any interim order on the strike by junior doctors at state-run hospitals and asked the West Bengal government to persuade the protesting doctors to resume work and restore healthcare services.
The protests then spread to the rest of the country as doctors expressed their solidarity with their injured colleagues. Doctors in Delhi, Rajasthan, Assam, Gujarat, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Kerala joined the strike.
Concern raised by central government:
The Ministry of Home Affairs had asked the state government for a report on the ongoing strike, saying it had received representations from doctors, healthcare professionals and medical associations across the country.
Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare wrote to chief ministers of all states and Union territories, urging them to ensure “strict action against any person who assaults” doctors.
SC to hear plea for safety, security of doctors at govt hospitals:
The plea was filed in the wake of protests by doctors in West Bengal against assault on their colleagues by the family of a patient, who died.
The petition has also sought directions to Union ministries of home affairs and health and West Bengal to depute government-appointed security personnel at all state-run hospitals across the country to ensure safety and security of doctors.
Protesting Doctors representatives meeting with West Bengal government:
West Bengal government assured them of better security at hospitals. The meeting between the representatives of the protesting doctors and the chief minister at the state secretariat was telecast live.
Chief minister proposed the setting up of a public relations team for state hospitals to communicate with the patients’ families so that there is no risk of doctors being subject to unruly behaviour.
Government also suggested that a nodal officer must be appointed to supervise the security at hospitals.
Government also accepted their proposal to set up a grievance cell in government hospitals, and assured doctors that such incidents will not happen in the future.
From the patient’s view: Charter of patients’ rights provide real protections against hospital malpractices:
One of the big health debates that will continue in 2019 is the protection of patients in India’s poorly regulated medical sector.
The nexus between doctors – diagnostics – pharmaceutical companies is clearly evident. Rarely does the Indian Medical Association react on this.
One move that can help strengthen such protections is the adoption and implementation of the Charter for Patient’s Rights.
The National Human Rights Commission prepared the draft and adopted it following which the health ministry released the document for public comments.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is still in the process of finalising the draft Charter of Patients Rights.
The comprehensive document enumerates the rights of patients as well as protection and redressal mechanisms in cases of violations by doctors and hospitals to be made enforceable through existing regulatory frameworks across the country.
More and more facilities should be created in the public hospitals. Public hospitals are the places, where poor look for compassion.
Due to the protests, the healthcare services in the country have been badly disrupted and many people are dying because of absence of doctors.
The effort to end violence against doctors and medical professionals must start with the understanding that doctors and patients do not have an antagonistic relationship, and barriers to care created by systemic deficiencies need to be eliminated.
The Government policy of 2.5% of GDP for public health expenditure must be ensured by 2025.
The Calcutta High court directed the government to apprise it of the steps taken following the attack on junior doctors at the NRS Medical College and Hospital.
In its present form, the charter details 17 rights of patients, including right to adequate and relevant information about their illness and treatment, right to emergency medical care without any conditions, right to informed consent before any test or treatment, right to confidentiality as well and human dignity and privacy, right to a second opinion, right to transparency in rates, right to non-discrimination and right to redressal in case of complaints against a doctor or hospital.