The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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60 days to doc strike

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has given the government a two-month ultimatum to either come clean on the controversial Clinical Establishments Act and withdraw enrolment of medical students under the pay-and-study scheme, or face a state-wide strike by doctors.

After a marathon convention on Tuesday — one of the biggest in recent times — the IMA state branch decided to adopt a “wait-and-watch approach” for the next two months before embarking on a statewide agitation.

IMA state secretary Moloy Patra said the government should stick to its earlier promise of introducing “enhancement fees” in only private medical colleges.

“They told us during several meetings in the past that such schemes would never be introduced in government-run hospitals, but they seem to be going back on their word,” said Patra.

IMA functionaries all over the state have been activated for large-scale agitation if the government decides to ignore the demands.

“We have been told that if the Medical Council of India does not grant 200 additional seats, the government will not introduce enhanced fees from this year. We will keep a watch for the next few weeks,” Patra added.

At the convention, IMA members also deliberated on the Clinical Establishments Act. Doctors have been agitated over it ever since the government brought in amendments two years ago.

According to the new rules under the Act, all private medical practitioners have to set up chambers with large air-conditioned waiting rooms and huge investigating rooms. After vehement protests by the IMA, the government decided to abandon the idea of air-conditioners, but has so far refused to exempt private practitioners from the Act.

“This is absolutely unjust. How can doctors, who have practised in a particular chamber for decades, suddenly pull it down and construct a new one or move to another chamber' We will not stop till the government decides to keep private practitioners out of the purview of the Act,” an IMA spokesman said.

Earlier, the government had refused to concede another IMA request — to allow doctors to continue their practice in pharmacies. “This can never be allowed,” state health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra had said.

The Clinical Establishments Act, now being reviewed by a health department team, will shortly be enforced, director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee said. Other issues, like the arrest of doctors and the regular payment and hike in the fees of Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) Scheme doctors were discussed at the convention.

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