Kolkata, Jun 14 : The doctors crisis in Bengal has snowballed into a major national issue with medics across the country in a gesture of solidarity joined the striking junior doctors in West Bengal after an intern at NRS Medical College and Hospital was brutally assaulted.
Resident Doctors' Association of AIIMS met Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan over violence against doctors in West Bengal.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said, ' I'd like to assure all doctors that the Government is committed towards their safety. I appeal to doctors to hold symbolic protests only & continue to carry out their duties. '
As the stalemate over the doctors' protest in Kolkata entered the fourth day today with no solution in sight, AIIMS Delhi along with the other centres in Patna, Raipur, Rajasthan, Punjab joined the agitation in solidarity with their counterparts in Bengal.
Sion Hospital in Mumbai is also be observing similar protests.
Healthcare facilities in Delhi are set to be widely affected as doctors at the critically important AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospitals are joining the agitation on Friday.
Several doctors in Delhi have decided to boycott work to express solidarity with their colleagues in Kolkata who were allegedly attacked by a 200-strong mob on Monday night. A junior doctor was left with a fractured skull during the clashes between doctors at the NRS Medical College and the mob.
The clashes were triggered by the death of a 75-year-old patient. The family alleged that he died due to medical negligence and thronged the hospital at night, attacking the resident doctors.
The widespread protests with its centrestage at NRS have now spread across West Bengal while Delhi and Mumbai doctors are also joining them a day after Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is issuing an ultimatum in Kolkata.
Ms Banerjee's nephew Abesh Banerjee who is a student at Kolkata's KPC Medical College Hospital has joined the doctors' protest.
Kerala doctors' association is holding demonstration in front of the secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram.
Doctors at Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad held protest march.
Doctors at North Bengal Medical College, Siliguri, observed strike over violence against doctors at NRS Medical College & Hospital.
A patient's relative outside AIIMS Delhi says, "My mother's dialysis was scheduled for today. We were told to go and get it done from somewhere else." Patients were being turned away from AIIMS Delhi as the doctors' association of AIIMS go on protest.
The doctors' protests in Kolkata have now snowballed and reached Delhi, Mumbai and all centres of AIIMS. Medical bodies in Delhi said that there will be a complete shutdown of all out-patient departments (OPDs), routine operation theatre services and ward visits, except emergency services in the hospitals.
On Thursday, resident doctors at the AIIMS and Safdarjung Hospital worked with bandages on their heads in a symbolic protest. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has asked members of all its state branches to stage protests and wear black badges on Friday.
Delhi Medical Association members will protest at Rajghat and hold a press conference at 2.30 pm. Doctors at Mumbai's Sion Hospital said they are observing a silent protest on Friday to protest against the mob assault on Kolkata doctors.
Prashant Choudhary, president MARD, Sion Hospital, said, "A mob assaulted doctors on duty at a hospital in West Bengal.When a targeted attack like this happens, it becomes a law and order issue. Today, we are doing a silent protest over the incident."
The Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) of AIIMS has issued a statement saying doctors at AIIMS Delhi, AIIMS Patna, AIIMS Raipur, Safdarjung Hospital, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Rajasthan and Punjab are observing 'Black Day' on Friday and doctors will wear helmets and bandages to work.
On the third day of the protests in Kolkata on Thursday, the agitation took a political colour with Ms Banerjee accusing BJP and CPI(M) of causing disruptions in the state and hatching a conspiracy.
While the incident happened at the NRS hospital, Ms Banerjee visited SSKM Hospital in the city and threatened the protesting doctors to end the agitation within four hours on Thursday or face action. She was met with slogans of "we want justice". Even several hours after her warning the protests refused to die down.
Medical service have been widely affected in the state for the past three days with emergency wards, outpatient facilities and pathological units of many state-run medical colleges and hospitals and a large number of private medical facilities in the state not functioning.
NRS Medical College and Hospital principal Saibal Mukherjee and medical superintendent cum vice-principal Prof Saurabh Chattopadhyaya have resigned for "failing to overcome the crisis" at the institution.
A delegation of the protesting doctors met Bengal Governor KN Tripathi and presented their demands. "We will continue with our agitation till our demands are fulfilled. Our demands are simple... proper security with armed policemen at all hospitals, arrest of culprits involved in the NRS attack on Saturday under non-bailable sections," said a member of the delegation.
Meanwhile, opposition parties slammed Ms Banerjee for her "threats" to agitating doctors and sought her immediate resignation as the health minister. BJP leader Mukul Roy alleged Ms Banerjee has become authoritarian and is behaving like "Hitler".
Condemning the violence against doctors in Kolkata, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday urged patients and their attendants to exercise restraint and said he will take up the matter of doctors' security with chief ministers of all states and Union Territories. (UNI)