Stalemate continues between junior doctors, govt in WB

Doctors hold placards during a protest rally following an attack to doctors by the family of a patient who died during treatment at the Nil Ratan Sircar (NRS) Medical College in Kolkata. AFP photo

The stalemate between the agitating junior doctors of state-run medical colleges and the West Bengal government continued on Saturday. Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged the junior doctors to resume work, the later turned down her proposal once again. Sticking to their earlier demand the junior doctors said that the Chief Minister must come to the NRS Medical College to speak to them. The cease work started after a recent alleged attack on junior doctors at the state-run NRS Medical College by the family members of a patient who died at the hospital. Five persons have been arrested in the case so far.

“Even as we wanted to normalise the situation the Chief Minister is trying to divert the people’s attention from the issue. With great regret we inform you that unless the Chief Minister takes the right step we will continue our agitation,” stated the junior doctors in a release.

They also said that while they are eager to return to duty if their demands are met and the Chief Minister comes at NRS Medical College to meet them but there was no honest initiative on her part.

“We are on our toes and eager to return to duty. But from the Chief Minister’s side there is no such honest initiative,” stated the release. The agitating junior doctors also refuted the Chief Minister’s claim that 10 junior doctors went to meet her at the State Secretariat and accused her of trying to create an impression as of the agitators are against any discussion and solution. The junior doctors on Friday also turned down the Chief Minister's offer of meeting her at the state Secretariat to resolve the issue.

Addressing the media at the State Secretariat earlier Banerjee pointed out that the state government has the provision to apply ESMA the Chief Minister said the government do not want to use such laws. She also assured that no coercive action will be taken against the agitating junior doctors.

“ It has been five days (of cease work by junior doctors). I want good sense to prevail. Please resume work...We have the laws but don’t want to use them. We will not take any stringent action against the agitating actors and jeopardise their career,” said Banerjee.

The Chief Minister also cited examples of earlier use of ESMA by other state governments such as Odisha, Gujarat, Delhi, Rajasthan Jammu and Kashmir. 

The Chief Minister also said that she waited for hours to meet the junior doctors on Friday and Saturday but they did not show up.

“Yesterday I waited for five hours to meet the junior doctors. In the end, they (junior doctors) said that they will come today. I cancelled all the programs and waited for them today to find a solution. I wanted a delegation meeting but they did not come,” said Banerjee.

As for the earlier mass resignation of doctors, she said that they are not legally tenable.

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