New Delhi: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday urged the agitating doctors to end their strike and appealed to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to withdraw her ultimatum against the doctors in her state, which triggered strikes across the country.
“I feel very sad that doctors across India had to strike work in protest against atrocities on doctors in West Bengal and consequently patients across India are suffering. I appeal to Mamata Banerjee to withdraw her ultimatum to the medical community and not make this a prestige issue,” he tweeted.
Urging the doctors to end their strike in the larger interest of the society, Harsh Vardhan said he would take all possible measures to ensure a safe environment for them at hospitals across the country. “I’ll write to all the states where such incidents have occurred and ensure safe working conditions for doctors,” he said.
The Union Health Minister said this after meeting a delegation of Resident Doctors Association of AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, United Resident & Doctors Association of India (URDA) and Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA), who gave him a memorandum on the violence against doctors in West Bengal.
Expressing deep concern over the West Bengal incident, Harsh Vardhan said: “I strongly condemn the unruly behaviour and assault on doctors. I will discuss it with the Chief Minister of Bengal.”
In a letter written to Banerjee, he urged her to ensure an amicable end to the agitation and provide a secure working environment to the doctors. He stated that the ongoing strike had adversely impacted healthcare services and was causing severe hardships to the patients across the country.
An official statement said the Union Health Minister also assured discussing the issue of providing safety to hospitals with the Home Ministry as well as with the Chief Ministers and Health Ministers of other states, in order to prevent any such incident in the future .
“The states should take all possible preventive and deterrent measures, as deemed required so that a peaceful environment prevails and doctors and clinical establishments discharge their duties and professional pursuits without fear or any violence and attacks on them. Together, we shall ensure safe and cordial environment for doctors and patients,” he said.
Appealing to the doctors, particularly in the West Bengal, Harsh Vardhan stated: “Doctors should resort to other simple and symbolic ways to protest. As medical professionals their duty is towards protecting the rights of their patients. Strike is certainly not the best way to protest. Patients should not be deprived of immediate and emergency healthcare facilities.”
He also urged all patients and their family members to support doctors in performing their duties and professional pursuits in a peaceful and dedicated manner and not to resort to violence.
“Doctors are an integral pillar of the society and often work under stressful and difficult conditions. I appeal to all patients and their caregivers to observe restraint, he said.
He appealed to the state governments to complete investigations into all such cases of violence promptly to ensure that criminals get prosecuted in a time-bound manner.