Bengaluru: Private doctors across Karnataka were back to work on Saturday and began treating out-patients after they called off their five-day strike on Friday.
“All the private doctors across the state are back to their duties since morning after we called off the strike,” Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) Karnataka Chapter Secretary Dr B. Veeranna told IANS here.
“Doctors are treating patients in Out-Patient Departments (OPDs) as we’d assured the High Court on Friday.”
The state government had incorporated penal provisions in the Amendment Bill to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act, 2007 to regulate the functioning of the private hospitals, including the treatment cost, Grievances Redressal Committees and imprisonment of doctors if a patient dies due to their medical negligence.
Nearly 50,000 doctors working at private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes were on a five-day strike with several doctors also on relay hunger strike at Belagavi, about 500km from here, where the 10-day winter session of the state legislature began on Monday.
“Whatever our demands were, the state government has agreed to make the amendments and table the bill again on Monday,” he said.
The state had agreed to the demands of the doctors at a two-hour long meeting between the state government and representatives of the private doctors at Belagavi on Friday, Veeranna said.
“As we demanded, the state government has agreed not to form Grievances Redressal Committees at the district level. Aggrieved patients can approach the District Health Officer (DHO) or the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) under the existing provisions of the KPME Act,” asserted Veeranna.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Acting Chief Justice H.G. Ramesh and Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar had on Friday ordered the private doctors to withdraw their strike, as the state government had agreed to consider their demands on the amendment bill.
“Basic medical services are a right to life for every citizen,” said the bench in the interim order on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an advocate on Wednesday against the striking private doctors and private hospitals.
The four main demands of the private doctors regarding the bill were inclusion of government doctors under the KPME Act, no grievances redressal committees, no penalty on erring doctors or their imprisonment for the death of a patient due to medical negligence and ceiling on cost of treatment should be applicable to only government health schemes under which eligible patients are treated in private hospitals or clinics.
Of the registered 1.25 lakh doctors in the state, only about 10,000 of them work in the state-run hospitals, while over a lakh are employed in about 40,000 private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics across the state.