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Karnataka doctors call off protest, private hospitals finally reopen OPDs

Of the registered 1,25,000 doctors in the state, only about 10,000 work in the state-run hospitals

IANS  |  Bengaluru 

Karnataka doctors
Patient wait outside the OPD block of a hospital during doctors' indefinite strike against Karnataka Private Medical Establishment (Amendment) bill in Bengaluru

Private hospitals across Karnataka, including would reopen their Out Patient Departments (OPDs) on Friday on the advice of the Karnataka High on Thursday, said two official of the medical associations.

"OPDs in all private hospitals across will re-open on Friday as advised by the High bench," state Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) President-elect C Jayanna told IANS here.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), filed by an advocate (N.P. Amruthesh) against the doctors' strike on Wednesday, a division bench of the High headed by Acting Chief Justice H G Ramesh and Justice P S Dinesh Kumar directed the private doctors and their associations to withdraw the strike and restore the OPD services from Friday.

Hundreds of private hospitals across the state on Thursday shut their OPDs again as thousands of doctors intensified their strike against the penal provisions in the amendment bill to the KPME Act drafted by the government.

The four-day strike began on Tuesday. The OPDs were also shut on November 3.

"The OPDs in all private hospitals across the state will function normally from Friday, as we do not want patients to be affected. We have given an assurance to the High bench to keep the OPDs open," Indian Medical Association's (IMA) Karnataka Chapter Secretary B. Veeranna told IANS.

Though the bench said it could pass an order, it was refraining, giving time for the doctors to withdraw their strike and directed the state government to address their demands on the stringent provisions in the amendment bill to the Karnataka Private Health Establishment Act, 2007.

"The state Advocate General (Madhusudan Naik) has submitted a letter to the bench from the Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) assuring the High that the state government would discuss the provisions of the amendment bill with the representatives of the doctors association on Friday at Belagavi," said Veeranna quoting Naik.

The Chief Minister also assured the High the amendment bill would be tabled in the legislative assembly only after discussing its provisions with all the stakeholders, including the doctors, the legislative select committee members and the lawmakers.

The bench adjourned the case for further hearing to Friday.

The state government had included stringent provisions in the amendment bill to regulate the functioning of private hospitals, including their costs of treatment and redressing the grievances of their patients.

Of the registered 1,25,000 doctors in the state, only about 10,000 work in the state-run hospitals, while over 100,000 are employed in about 40,000 private hospitals, nursing homes and clinics.

The private doctors are staging the hunger strike at Belagavi, about 500 km from Bengaluru, where the 10-day winter session of the legislature began on Monday.

The four main demands are the inclusion of government doctors under the KPME Act, no grievances redressal committees, no penalty on erring doctors or their imprisonment for the death of any patient due to medical negligence and ceiling on cost of treatment only for government health schemes under which eligible patients are treated in private hospitals or clinics.

First Published: Fri, November 17 2017. 09:53 IST