Doctors call off strike as govt agrees to revise Bill

Diluted version without jail term to be tabled on Monday

Doctors call off strike as govt agrees to revise Bill

Under pressure from striking doctors, the state government on Friday agreed to water down the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Bill.

The revised bill will drop jail for doctors and exclude clinical complaints from the purview of the district redressal committees.

Doctors, as a result, called off their five-day-old strike. Earlier in the day, the High Court had expressed shock at the continued shutdown of outpatient services in the districts. Terming the right to life as fundamental, it pulled up doctors for not heeding its request to restore services.

Doubts cleared: CM

Chief minister Siddaramaiah announced the truce. "The doctors had fears, doubts and a sense of terror. They have been clarified and we have agreed to make some changes," he told a press conference after meeting doctors here.

Narayana Health founder Dr Devi Shetty and Manipal Hospitals chairman Dr H Sudarshan Ballal were among those who represented private medical establishments at the meeting. A revised Bill will be tabled in the Assembly on November 20, Siddaramaiah said.

"We have convinced doctors and at the same time, we have safeguarded the interests of the common man," he told reporters.

 All imprisonment clauses will be dropped, except for those running medical establishments without registration.

 "It was agreed upon that clinical complaints will be handled by competent bodies such as the Karnataka Medical Council or the Medical Council of India," Dr Ballal said.

 Doctors are free to field lawyers to represent them before the grievance redressal committees.

Those filing false complaints before the committee will be penalised, health minister K R Ramesh Kumar said.

 The government will fix rates only for procedures under government-funded insurance schemes such as Yashaswini and Vajpayee Arogyashree.

 Implementation of the state's ambitious Universal Health Coverage scheme, expected to cover nearly 1.40 crore households, is dependent on the passage of the KPME Bill.

"The two are integrated. The private sector will cooperate with us. No one will fish in troubled waters anymore," Siddaramaiah said.


Doctors' apology

In the last five days, 20 patients have died reportedly for want of timely medical attention.

"We are sorry if the deaths were caused because of our protest," said Dr H N Ravindra, head of the Karnataka chapter of the Indian Medical Association.

Siddaramaiah demanded proof to show the deaths were caused by the stand-off between the government and the doctors.

"No one knows why those people died," he said, when asked if the government took responsibility for the deaths. "A hundred people died because of demonetisation. Who is responsible for that?"

No advance


Doctors have agreed not to insist on an advance if the patient, at the time of admission, is not clinically stable.

 

 Changes coming up in draft law

* No imprisonment for doctors. Only quacks will be jailed.

 * Grievance redressal committees will not deal with clinical complaints.

 * Lawyers can represent doctors before such committees.

 * Ceiling only for procedures covered under government-funded insurance schemes.

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