Resolving not to crack under pressure from the government, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Saturday decided to boycott the state’s call to register the names and chambers of private practitioners with the health department. The state government had earlier announced that it would ban private practice if doctors did not register themselves with the health department.
The recently-amended Clinical Establishment Act makes it mandatory for private practitioners to register with the health department. According to a government decision, the 28,000-odd private practitioners in the state will have to register themselves with the health department after an initial payment of Rs 1,000-1,250. In every subsequent year, they will have to shell out a renewal fee of Rs 300-650.
After Saturday’s marathon meeting, the IMA state council vowed not to “yield under any pressure” and consider registration only if the government drops the issue of renewal of fees. “Private practitioners affiliated to the IMA will not register unless the government changes its decision to take renewal fees every year,” said IMA state secretary Moloy Patra.
Reacting to the IMA decision, health department officials said the government would ban private practice if doctors did not follow the instruction immediately. “The doctors will have to abide by the rules, or face the consequences,” said director of medical education C.R. Maity on Saturday. The government is also seeking legal opinion on the issue, officials added.
Key IMA functionaries argued that the policy of “double registration” for private practitioners — all doctors need to register with the Medical Council of India — did not exist anywhere in India. “The question of giving up to the whimsical demands of the government does not arise. All the government is interested in is minting money,” said R.D. Dubey, joint secretary, IMA (headquarters), and a member of the Calcutta wing.
In another development, the government has issued circulars, authorising only deputy commissioners and district superintendents of police to arrest doctors to prevent harassment on physicians.
Road rename plea
The proposal of the advisory committee, appointed by the state government to rename Middleton Street after freedom-fighter Prafulla Chandra Sen, has been challenged in Calcutta High Court. Some residents of Middleton Street filed a petition before the high court seeking an order directing the advisory committee to reconsider the issue. They proposed the road be renamed F.N. Gooptu Sarani.