Karnataka: Doctors strike called off

The Karnataka government stared at a crisis, after 20,000 doctors launched an indefinite strike against some provisions of the Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill. They demanded that the Siddaramaiah government drop at least four contentious proposals in the bill. However, the doctors have called off the strike, after their demands were approved

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In a step to make healthcare affordable, the Karnataka government decided to fix the rates for different types of treatments and bed charges in private hospitals and nursing homes. The bill, Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill 2017, which has been placed on the floor in the house, empowers the state government to fix rates, and also talks about imprisonment or penalty in case of violation of the rule.

As the Siddaramaia government in Karnataka is planning to put a cap on medical professionals and doctors, the government’s decision has created a flutter amongst the fraternity. Shocked by the government’s proposal, the Indian Medical Asossication (IMA) had written a letter to Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah, strongly opposing the government’s move to regulate doctors.

Owing to which, More than 20,000 doctors in Bengaluru, were protesting against the amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, 2017 that prescribes fixed prices for the treatments and also holds them accountable in case of medical negligence. The doctors joined colleagues from at least 14 other districts who were already protesting against the Bill. However, the doctors have called off the strike, after their demands were approved.

Dr T S Tejaswi, Secretary, IMA, Belagavi said, “Yes they have agreed to our demands. Doctors will resume work immediately. The redress committee will be as it is and rate fixation will apply only for those holders below poverty line. These two were the main demands which have been approved. The written confirmation from the ministry will come on Monday.”

Dr Rajshekhar Bellary, former president, IMA Karnataka said, “Doctors have been asked to resume work. The confirmation will come on Monday.”

 Highlights of the IMA’s letter to Karnataka CM Siddaramaia:

There is no law in the world that allows anyone to complain and punish a doctor for merely asking questions to the patient

The professional conduct of the medical professionals are governed by the medical councils and no other authority can adjudicate on these matters
the attempt to regulate charges of medical professionals is unconstitutional

Government has failed to improve its own hospital and the private healthcare establishment has shouldered the responsibility with its own investments and expenses. It is unfortunate that the government, instead of providing a favourable and secure environment for the doctors, is trying to create severe hurdles even for our day to day works

Creating new regulatory authorities under the alibi that the medical councils, consumer forum, civil and criminal courts are ineffective is not only an affront to these institutions, but also a dangerous phenomenon