Kolkata, June 15: The strike by junior doctors in West Bengal over attacks on medicos entered the fifth day on Saturday. The striking doctors remained adamant on an apology from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for having cast aspersions on them. They also declined an invitation from the Chief Minister's Secretariat to resolve the stalemate which has completely crippled healthcare services at state-run hospitals across the state for the last four days.
The invitation was sent following an intervention by five senior doctors led by Sukumar Mukherjee who called on Banerjee at Nabanna and offered to mediate in the matter. "We have come on our own to resolve the issue as the medical services in the state are going through a crisis - both for the doctors and the patients. We want the doctors to feel secure, and the government also to keep its promise to improve functioning of the hospital services," said Mukherjee after a meeting with the Chief Minister. Patients Suffer As Nationwide Agitation Cripples Medical Services Across India.
The Chief Minister's secretariat invited four members of the striking junior doctors for talks, and Director, Medical Education, Pradip Mitra visited NRS Medical College and Hospital - the epicentre of the protests - to persuade the medicos to come for talks. However, the striking doctors turned down the proposal saying they were not in a position to go, as they would be holding a general body meeting to decide on the issue. Doctors' Strike: IMA Calls For 3-Day Stir, Nationwide Strike on June 17 to Protest Against Attacks on Medicos.
The government has decided to invite the striking medicos again at 5 pm today. "We will again come on Saturday. if they (junior doctors) send their representatives there will be a meeting. The Chief Minister wants a quick resolution of the issue. She has given her proposals," said Mukherjee. The meeting, however, is unlikely to take place as junior doctors want Banerjee to meet them at NRS Medical College and Hospital.
"She should come down to NRS, hear our grievances, and apologise for her remarks on Thursday," a junior doctor told IANS. "Had the message come four days back, the patients wouldn't have faced such an ordeal. The situation has become more volatile now. Today we saw no reason to go. But we have not taken any decision on our next step. We will hold a GB meeting on Saturday morning and make public our stand," another junior doctor said.
Banerjee had visited SSKM Hospital on Thursday and gave the doctors a four-hour deadline to withdraw their strike and normalise the services at the hospitals. She also threatened to use the Essential Services Maintenance Act and warned of "strong action" if the strikers miss the deadline. Banerjee also saw a political conspiracy and a BJP and CPI-M hand in the protests, and dubbed the agitators "outsiders", "BJP workers and CPI-M cadre".
Junior doctors went on a strike on Tuesday after two of their colleagues were allegedly beaten up by relatives of a patient who died due to alleged medical negligence. The strike turned into a nationwide protest on Friday with doctors and nurses of Delhi, Maharashtra, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Northeastern states joining the stir in solidarity to the agitating doctors in West Bengal.