Doctors' Protest Spreads With Face-Off Between Maharashtra, Medical Association

Mumbai: Maharashtra government's join or lose six month's salary ultimatum has set it on a collision course with the state's doctors. Affronted, the Indian Medical Association or IMA, the top body of doctors, has called a strike. With over 40,000 doctors from IMA going on strike, patients of not only government hospitals but private hospitals too, are likely to be affected. Hospitals will provide only emergency services, selective surgeries will be cancelled and out-patient departments will be shut.

This morning, after nearly 3,500 doctors have been on mass casual leave for three days, the government said they should either join work by 8 pm or lose six months' salary.  The protesting doctors are demanding more security at workplace after their colleagues in a few hospitals faced attack.

Girish Mahajan, the state's minister for medical education today said, "Those doctors who don't return to work by 8 pm today will stand to lose 6 months' salary". Regarding the demand for more security, the minister said, "We will give them 1,100 guards... We have got financial clearances."

The Mumbai civic authorities have also served show-cause notice to more than a thousand doctors who had been on strike for the last three days. Among those served notice are 350 doctors from Sion hospital, where the attack on a doctor by a patient's relatives had triggered the strike. Days before, a similar incident incident had been reported from Dhule.

"IMA will strike work from this moment, 40,000 doctors who are a part of IMA, are a part of this strike," said IMA Secretary, Parthiv Sanghvi. "Till this is sorted and suspension notices are revoked, only emergency services will be provided. There will be no OPDs and no elective surgeries will take place".

Mumbai civic body BMC has said it is making arrangements for the security of doctors. The authorities said they will seek additional armed forces, numbering around 500, from the state government to deploy at various hospitals.

Additional Municipal Commissioner IA Kundan has said only two relatives of any patient shall be permitted with special passes and those found without the valid passes shall be prosecuted.

Tomorrow, the Bombay High Court will hear the petition of an activist, who has asked that the striking doctors be asked to return to work immediately.
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