The Outdoor Patient Departments (OPD) in most state-run hospitals in West Bengal were affected today after doctors stayed away from providing non-essential services, in response to a call by Indian Medical Association (IMA).
However, emergency services and other departments remained operational.
The IMA had called for a 24-hour withdrawal of non-essential services across the country today to protest against the National Medical Commission Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on July 29.
Doctors in OPDs across the state-run hospitals in Kolkata, Murshidabad and Hooghly reportedly stayed off their duties, even as patients waited in serpentine queues for treatment.
The bill provides for setting up of a National Medical Commission in place of the Medical Council of India (MCI) for development and regulation of all aspects of medical education, profession and institutions.
The medical fraternity is anguished that the health minister, a surgeon, instead of including key recommendations made by the Parliament Standing Committee, replaced many provisions with clauses detrimental to the doctors' community.
The fraternity claims that the bill will encourage quackery.
The IMA termed the bill as "anti-poor, anti-student and undemocratic".