The Supreme Court on Monday said it will hear on June 18 a plea seeking safety and security of doctors in government hospitals across the country. A vacation bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Surya Kant agreed to list the matter for Tuesday after the counsel appearing for the petitioner, advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, sought urgent hearing. The plea was filed on Friday in the wake of protests by doctors in West Bengal against assault on their colleagues allegedly by the relatives of a patient, who died on June 10 at a Kolkata hospital.
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 to ensure safety and security of doctors. Due to the protests, healthcare services in the country have been badly disrupted and many people are dying because of absence of doctors, the plea said.
"The Indian Medical Association has supported the agitation of the doctors and has directed its members of all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on Friday. Many senior doctors have resigned from their government posts in order to express solidarity with the agitating doctors," it said. The plea also sought directions to Bengal government to take the strictest legal and penal action against those who assaulted junior doctors at NRS Medical College Hospital in Kolkata.
"As per the study conducted by IMA, more than 75 percent of doctors across the country have faced some form of violence. This study concluded that 50 percent violent incidents took place in the Intensive Care Unit of hospitals and in 70 percent of cases, the relatives of the patients were actively involved," it said. The plea sought directions to formulate appropriate guidelines or law to ensure safety and security of doctors at government hospitals and to ensure its compliance.
"The doctors are our saviours and particularly the doctor working in government hospitals are doing great national service, particularly to the poor and downtrodden of this country, in extremely adverse circumstances," it said. Junior doctors in West Bengal are on strike since June 11, demanding better security at workplace after the attack on their colleagues in Kolkata.
The IMA declared Friday as the "All India Protest Day" and launched a three-day nationwide protest. It also called for a strike on June 17 by withdrawal non-essential health services. Over 100 senior doctors of various state-run hospitals across West Bengal resigned from service. Doctors across the country went on protest to express solidarity with the doctors agitating against the attack on their colleagues in West Bengal.
Scores of doctors in government and private hospitals in the national capital, including those at AIIMS, have decided to boycott work for a day on Monday. Resident Doctors' Association of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences announced withdrawal of nonessential services from noon after a junior doctor at its trauma centre was assaulted early Monday.