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Appeal to Mamata Banerjee to not make this a prestige issue: Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on doctors' stir

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday met a delegation of doctors from AIIMS and other top hospitals.

Appeal to Mamata Banerjee to not make this a prestige issue: Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on doctors' stir
Image credits: ANI
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NEW DELHI: Taking note of the ongoing day-long strike by thousands of doctors across the country over violence against their colleagues in Kolkata, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Friday appealed to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to not make this ''a prestige issue.''

The Health Minister, who met a delegation of doctors from AIIMS and other top hospitals, reaffirmed that the Central government is committed to providing better working conditions and security to the doctors.

"I appeal with folded hands to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to not make this an issue of prestige. Despite getting beaten so badly, doctors only asked her to provide them adequate security and take action against all those behind this as per the law. But, she didn't do this and gave an ultimatum to the doctors after which doctors of West Bengal and across the country got angry and went on strike. If the Chief Minister changes her attitude, then patients will not suffer across India," the Union Health Minister said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan further stated that he will write a letter to Mamata Banerjee in this regard and try to end the impasse at the earliest.

''I will also try to talk to her. I would like to assure all doctors that the government is committed to ensuring their safety,'' he said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan also made an appeal to the doctors to hold symbolic protests only and continue to carry out their duties.

The Union Minister said that he will also write a letter to all Chief Ministers and state Health Ministers regarding the safety of doctors in hospitals.

It may be noted that Mamata Banerjee has accused the BJP and the CPM of ''engineering the doctors' strike'' and playing "Hindu-Muslim politics". 

Doctors in Kolkata have been on strike after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured over an issue of alleged negligence at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Soon after, the protest was joined by various government and private medical institutions across India. 

On Friday, healthcare services at private and government hospitals were badly hit in several states, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Bihar, UP, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, as thousands of doctors went on strike for a day to express solidarity with their protesting colleagues who were attacked by a mob in Kolkata.

According to reports, hundreds of doctors in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur Thiruvananthapuram, Raipur, Patna and Punjab and other cities staged protests on Friday. 

Doctors at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were seen wearing helmets and bandages as they attended to patients. Hundreds of patients in the national capital faced difficulties as Resident Doctors Association (RDA) of AIIMS supported the day-long strike over violence against doctors in West Bengal.

Besides, resident doctors in several government hospitals in Kerala and Hyderabad also staged protests as they started their `cease work` demonstrations in respective cities.

Similar protests were also being held in Pune, Aurangabad and Nagpur by MARD members who are demanding adequate protection for their counterparts in West Bengal.

Meanwhile, the principal and the superintendent of the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata, where the assault on two doctors took place on Monday night, resigned late on Thursday. Five more doctors from the forensic medicine department also resigned. A total of 7 doctors at the NRS resigned. 

At Sagar Dutta Medical College and Hospital in North 24 Parganas, at least 18 doctors resigned.

16 doctors from RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata also resigned in protest against the incident on Friday. The mass resignation of doctors is expected to continue on Friday over the Kolkata hospital incident.

The Indian Medical Association has declared Friday as "All India Protest Day" against the assault on junior doctors in Kolkata.

(With Agency inputs)