Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday reminded the States to act on a two-year-old central government suggestion to come out with a stringent law to protect the doctors.
In the absence of a specific law, the States have been asked to take strict action under the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code against the miscreants who harmed the doctors and healthcare professionals on duty.
The suggestion of a separate law came from the recommendations of an inter-ministerial panel that was formed by the Union Health Ministry in 2015 in the wake of a string of attacks on doctors. Two years later, the panel recommended a special legislation as a solution.
In his letter to the Chief Ministers Vardhan cited the 2017 letter from the Centre (sent to the Chief Secretaries in July 2017) and reminded them of the unfinished agenda.
A draft legislation prepared by the Indian Medical Association – the Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017 – was also circulated to the States.
Vardhan requested the Chief Ministers to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals, who often work under stressful and difficult conditions.
In the absence of a specific law, the inter-ministerial committee also recommended enforcing the IPC/CrPC provisions with vigour.
“Our doctors rank among the best in the world and work for long hours under stressful conditions, grappling with a huge load of patients. It is the duty of State to ensure the safety and security of doctors who assure that the healthcare needs of the society are met,” he wrote.
The Union Minister reached out to the States in the wake of the ongoing protest by doctors in Kolkata after they were thrashed by a mob following the death of a 75-year-old patient.
The agitation on the safety of doctors, particularly those working at government hospitals, has now spread to other cities with medicos coming out on the roads in support of their colleagues in Kolkata.
“Since ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects, Government of India, on many occasions has drawn the attention of State Governments for an urgent need for a robust criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention and control of crime (against healthcare professionals on duty),” Vardhan mentioned.
“Strict action against any person who assaults them must be ensured by the law enforcement agencies,” he emphasised