IMA protest: Health ministry asks govt hospitals to take steps

New Delhi, Jan 1- The Union health ministry asked central government hospitals to take “necessary” steps to ensure healthcare and emergency services run smoothly in wake of an IMA call to suspend routine services for 12 hours today.

The Indian Medical Association has called for suspending routine services today to protest against a bill that seeks to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) with a new body.

The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill was tabled in Parliament on Friday. It also proposes to allow practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and ayurveda, practice allopathy after completing a “bridge course”.

Healthcare services at many private hospitals in the country are expected to be hit due to the shutdown.

The IMA has 2.77 lakh doctors as its members.

“It has come to our notice that the IMA would be on one- day strike on Jan 2, 2018. Since, the strike may involve a large number of medical professionals, it is anticipated that there would be inconvenience to the patient care services in hospitals,” the health ministry advisory said.

“It is requested that all necessary measures may be taken to ensure that the patient healthcare and emergency services are run smoothly,” it added.

The advisory has been issued to AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital and other such central government-run hospitals. The ministry has also sought a compliance report from hospitals.

The IMA has strongly opposed the NMC bill, saying it will “cripple” the functioning of medical professionals by making them completely answerable to the bureaucracy and non-medical administrators. It has declared January 2 as “black day”.

“The NMC bill in the present form is not acceptable. This bill is anti-poor, anti-people, non-representative, undemocratic and anti-federal in character,” newly-appointed IMA national president Dr Ravi Wankhedkar said.

The Delhi Medical Association is supporting the IMA’s protest and has called on private and corporate hospitals in the national capital to keep their OPD services closed.

IMA members also held a meeting with the Union Health Minister J P Nadda and conveyed their concerns over the bill.

Dr K K Aggarwal, former president of the IMA, said they have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the health minister, urging them to redraft the bill and modify some provisions to protect the interest of medical practitioners. PTI