Dharamshala: Doctors across Himachal Pradesh, besides those on emergency duty, put down their stethoscopes and are out on mass casual leave at the start of the working week today in protest of manhandling of a lady doctor.
“It’s unfortunate that we have been forced to agitate in such a manner as about 1,600 doctors are on mass casual leave today. They will only provide emergency services,” said Dr Jeevnanad Chauhan, president of HP Medical Officers Association.
“A lady doctor in Kullu was beaten up by some unknown persons at her home and she suffered a serious head injury. Our association had demanded action against the culprits and security for doctors. We did meet health minister Kaul Singh Thakur in Shimla and a delegation of 40 HPMOA doctors returned disappointed,” said Dr Chauhan.
“We are demanding that an assault on a doctor be made a non-bailable offence,” he added.
Sensing the gravity of the issue, chief minister Virbhadra Singh has scheduled an urgent afternoon meeting with HPMOA doctors during the lunch hours of busy monsoon session day at the Vidhan Sabha office.
Apprehensive of any breakthrough, the association has threatened that if no progress is made, the doctors would resort to a four-hour pen down strike (from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm) from August 25 to August 31.
Earlier announcing the HPMOA’s decision giving a call for all government doctors to go on casual leave, Dr Susheel Sharma, spokesperson of the association said, medical services, except emergency services, will remained suspended today.
Dr Sant Lal Sharma, chairman of HMOA action committee added, “Medical officers who are on emergency duty as mentioned in the duty roaster will continue to offer their services.”
Resenting a centralization of leave powers by the state authorities, Dr Vikram Lakhanpal, president Chamba Medical Officers Association, pointed out that a health ministry directive had withdrawn administrative powers of presiding medical officers to sanction medical, earned and other types of leave. These powers now rest vested with secretary health that has made the working conditions of doctors spread out in remote areas very difficult. This decision needs to be reversed.
Transport minister GS Bali has termed the doctors decision to go on en mass leave an unfortunate one. “I will take up the issue with the chief minister and the health minister,” Bali said in a statement yesterday.
Former health minister Dr Rajeev Bindal, a BJP legislator in the opposition said, “around 2 to 2.5 lakh patients who visit government hospitals on daily basis are being affected by the striking doctors.”