June 15, 2019
Doctors are our pride, people hold them in the same esteem as gods: Mamata Banerjee
An isolated incident of a patient’s death in NRS hospital has led to a state-wide strike by junior doctors. Patients in the state and those coming for treatment from other states are not getting treatment. This strike has led to the deaths of many patients, including children. At the very outset, the Chief Minister of Bengal sent the Minister of State (Health), Kolkata Police Commissioner and the Additional Chief Secretary of Health Department to meet the junior doctors. After repeated requests from them, the junior doctors have still not called off their strike. The Health Department had been monitoring the condition of the injured doctor to ensure he gets proper medical care. The injured doctor is stable now, The Government has met with his family too. The State has borne all expenses of his medical care at a private nursing home.
The Chief Minister visited SSKM hospital and requested the junior doctors to resume work. On friday, she invited the doctors for discussion at the state secretariat, Nabanna. She also sent them a request in writing to resume work. Today, the President of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Santanu Sen visited the doctors and again requested them to resume work. The doctors have still not agreed to get back to work.
Mamata Banerjee addressed a press conference today at Nabanna. Highlights of her speech:
On June 10, after a regrettable incident took place in NRS, our Government has maintained a continuous process. We sent Chandrima Bhattacharya the very next day. I wanted to speak to the doctors over the phone, but they refused. I did not tell anyone about this disrespect.
I sent Anuj Sharma, he spoke to the doctors for 3 hours. The next day the Additional Secretary of Health Department visited with his team. Whatever demands the doctors had, we fulfilled all of them. Next we sent the directorate of medical education, but he was sent away from there.
The next day we requested them to resume work as thousands of people were not getting treatment, but to no avail.
People have died in Medinipur and Murshidabad. People should realise that doctors are our pride, people hold them in the same esteem as gods, because they give back a new life to patients. Families of those who have died or are ill, they are suffering today.
Yesterday I personally visited PG hospital because I heard of a patient suffering and wanted to see if the emergency ward was open.I did not say anything. When I was walking among the agitators, I was pushed, abused, and shouted at. If this had happened anywhere else, the different steps would have been taken. And I ask the journalists to let the people see the truth.
I held a meeting with senior doctors yesterday. I waited for five hours yesterday, because my main aim is to ensure that people get services. They said they won’t come yesterday, but might come today. So I cancelled my programmes to day. Even after giving them two days, they did not come.
Whatever happened, the Government took immediate steps against that. The Police have arrested five people. If the doctors have any more demands, we will fulfill them as well.
Our Government is not negative, we have not behaved in a negative manner with anyone.
Some examples from other States:
In 2008, the BJD governemnt in Odisha invoked ESMA (Essential Services Maintenance Act) on hearing of a strike threat and forced seven leaders to resign.
In 2009, under Modi’s Gujarat ESMA was invoked and they not only forced them to end the strike but arrested 150 doctors as well.
In 2015, the AAP Government in Delhi ended the strike called for security of doctors and some other demands by invoking ESMA . They imposed ESMA in 2016 as well.
In 2017, the BJP Government in Rajasthan invoked ESMA against doctors for taking mass leave on one day. The BJP Government also invoked ESMA for six months against OPD strike for two hours.
In 2018, the BJP-PDP Government threatened imposition of ESMA against doctors who had asked for leave.
In 2018, Manipur was also threatened with ESMA
Since we believe in democracy and humanity, we have not invoked ESMA, have not arrested anyone or cancelled anybody’s registration. For the last 5-6 days, we have borne everything humanely.
I would request the junior doctors not to be influenced by politics or anyone’s instigations. I am not blaming the doctors, some people are provoking them. They had decided to come yesterday, on whose provokation did they decide not to?
Health services is a very important issue. Lots of outside organisations and people have joined this agitation without knowing the whole issue. The Government has to work as per the Constitution.
Some TV channels are besmirching Bengal’s name in front of the whole country. Journalists are not telling the people the steps taken by the Government. There are similar problems in other states as well.
I appeal to all doctors to resume work keeping in mind the plight of the common people. Health services cannot be disrupted like this.
Bengal is a peaceful State. Bengal Government is humane and patient.
Send the advisory report to Uttar Pradesh instead of Bengal