Health services across Madhya Pradesh were paralysed after 1,200 junior doctors working in hospitals attached to five medical colleges resigned to protest against expulsion of their colleagues and medical support staff.
The junior doctors in government-run medical colleges of Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior, Jabalpur and Rewa have been on an indefinite strike since July 22 to press for various demands, including a hike in the stipend allocated to them. However, in an unprecedented action, the Madhya Pradesh government slapped Essential Supplies Maintenance Act (ESMA) on five protesting junior doctors who are post-graduate students at the medical colleges.
The Madhya Pradesh medical education department, on Tuesday, went a step ahead and expelled 20 more junior doctors and terminated four nurses. This prompted the mass resignation from other junior doctors. “The strike is for just demands of the doctors. We have decided to submit resignations as many of our colleagues have been suspended,” said Dr Sanchet Saksena, president of Junior Doctors Association.
On the other hand, the strike has paralysed health services in all the seven medical colleges and hospitals affiliated to them. Scores of operation procedures planned across Madhya Pradesh were postponed in the absence of junior doctors who act as a major source of medical support in the hospitals. “We have no option but to resign as the government is not sympathetic towards us,” Dr Saxena said.
The striking junior doctors have threatened a nation-wide strike if their demands are not met. “We are in touch with our counterparts in Maharashtra and other bordering states, including Delhi,” said an office-bearer.
However, medical education minister Sharad Jain said the demands of junior doctors can be addressed only after they return to work.
Dr Harjit Singh Bhati, President of Resident Doctors Association at AIIMS, has written a letter to Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan to revoke ESMA and accept the demands of the striking doctors.
Earlier, the Junior Doctors Association had met government officials to sort out the issue. However, the meeting was inconclusive as the government declared the strike illegal and imposed ESMA.