About 40,000 doctors, paramedics and nurses began a day-long strike on Monday in state-run and private hospitals across Karnataka in support of their West Bengal colleagues, seeking safety, security and protection at work, an official said.
"As all the doctors, nurses and their support staff are on strike, out-patient departments (OPDs) in government and private hospitals are closed for the day. Only emergency services are available and casualty wards are open," the state's Indian Medical Association (IMA) treasurer B. Veeranna told IANS here.
Of the 15,000 hospitals across the southern state, about 2,000, including primary health centres are run by the government, while the remaining (13,000) are in the private sector.
"The nationwide strike call has evoked an overwhelming response from our fraternity, especially our members in government and private hospitals. We hope the authorities concerned will respond to our plea and ensure our safety," Veeranna added.
There is a shortage of doctors, nurses and support staff in the state-run hospitals. Even the number of beds and other facilities are not in commensurate with the demand for health services in cities, towns and villages across the state.
"We regret the inconvenience being caused to the public, especially the outdoor patients due to the strike, which became inevitable due to the intransigent stand of the governments in ensuring our safety and protection from assaults, which are at times violent and life-threatening," said Veeranna.
Though Karnataka too has a law to protect doctors and nurses from abuse, assault and violence against them, they are not strictly enforced due to official apathy and lack of commitment.
"The Karnataka Prohibition of Violence against Medicare Service Personnel and Damage to Property in Medicare Services Institutions Act 2009 was amended two years ago and circulars have been issued to all state-run and private hospitals and nurses by police commissioners in cities and superintendents of police in districts, there is no follow-up to ensure our safety from patients or their relatives," lamented Veeranna.
The medical fraternity in the state are on strike to protest the alleged assault on their junior colleagues at NRS Medical College in Kolkata last week.
All private doctors, including paramedics and nurses observed a day-long strike on June 14 in support of their colleagues in Kolkata who were assaulted by the relatives of a patient who died in their hospital on June 10.
Though the doctors and the medical staff are on duty, they are sporting black bands, bandages on their hands and aprons to express solidarity with their counterparts in the Kolkata hospitals.
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