Striking doctors in West Bengal yesterday decided to hold talks with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to immediately end the impasse but said there should be media coverage of the deliberations to avoid discrepancies.
“The last press interview by our honourable chief minister was full of discrepancies which had led to false propagation of the motive behind our protests and the response of the government to it. Hence it needs clarification,” a representative of the doctors of the NRS Medical College and Hospital said as the strike entered the sixth day that has badly hit state-run health services.
“We want an immediate end to this impasse through discussions with the CM which, to maintain transparency, shouldn’t be behind closed doors,” he said after a meeting that was attended by representatives of other hospitals participating in the strike.
“The venue can be chosen by the CM, but that should be able to accommodate representatives of all medical colleges and the national media,” he said.
“Doctors want to join duty as early as possible in the best interest of healthcare delivery to the common people once all our demands are met adequately and logically,” the representative said.
“We are hopeful that our honourable chief minister will be considerate enough to solve the problems that our entire state is facing currently,” he added.
Director of medical education Pradip Mitra, who attended the meeting, tried to mediate a middle path for the junior doctors and the government.
“The doctors had demanded two to five representatives from each medical college to be present during their meeting with the chief minister. Even if a single delegate from each medical college attends the meeting the figure will be around 15 and the final number will be decided by the CM,” Mitra said.
Also, the chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Priyank Kanoongo, who arrived in Kolkata on Saturday night, visited the paediatric wards of some state-run hospitals to assess the condition of patients.
“I found that children are not getting treatment and the situation is very pathetic. I will submit a report when I reach Delhi. Children’s lives should be everyone’s priority and no ego should come in between,” Kanoongo said.
According to him, the cease-work and the disruption in the healthcare system should be solved through discussions without letting the children suffer.
According to sources, the doctors and the chief minister would hold a meeting today at the state secretariat. However, it is not clear if media coverage of the entire meeting will be allowed.
Meanwhile, doctors in Goa have decided to join the Indian Medical Association’s call for a nationwide closure of non-essential medical services today to show solidarity with doctors in West Bengal and support the demand for a special legislation to make assault on doctors a non-bailable offence.
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