Phagwara: The medical fraternity in Punjab is furious over the recent incident of violence against a doctor at Phagwara civil hospital over the death of a teenager who succumbed to his injuries after being hit by a train.
Raising their voice against this instance of assault against the Emergency Medical Officer, the doctors and para-medical staff belonging to the Civil Hospital went on a strike on Saturday.
Following their strike which lasted around eight hours, doctors of civil hospitals in neighbouring areas, including Bholath, Sultanpur Lodhi and Kapurthala, also suspended their work for sometime in solidarity with their colleagues in Phagwara, police officials have informed PTI.
While Phagwara Additional Deputy Commissioner Nayan Jassal along with other officials rushed to the spot immediately, the protesting doctors denied withdrawing the protest until an FIR was lodged against the assailants. Further, the doctors have also demanded from the authorities to ensure that adequate security staff has been deployed at the hospital.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Jaspreet Singh said a case under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code was registered against half a dozen persons. He also mentioned that three of them, including a woman, were rounded up. Later, the protesting doctors and other staff lifted their protest.
The matter concerned a 16-years-old boy Anuj Singh, who sustained serious head injuries after being hit by a train near Shivpuri on the Phagwara-Banga rail section on Saturday morning.
According to police, the teenager was crossing the railway track while listening to music on his headphones and because of this he could not see the approaching passenger train. Although he had been taken to the hospital and Dr Ashish Jaitley, an emergency medical officer at the hospital attended to him, the patient could not be saved.
This worsened the situation and the enraged family members of the deceased, including women and their supporters, assaulted and thrashed the doctor.
The video of the incident has been shared by a doctor on Twitter and in the video, it can be seen that the doctor is surrounded by several people who are slapping him and assaulting him in all possible ways.
Following the assault, the doctor had to be taken to the hospital because he complained of severe pain in his neck and back. Police informed that the doctor was saved by the attendants of other patients.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Partap Singh Bajwa told The Indian Express “It was really unfortunate and disheartening to learn that a 16-year-old boy lost his life after being hit by a passenger train. However to hold the doctor and the para-medical staff responsible for his death was equally unfortunate,” the Congress MLA from Qadian added. “Later one doctor and a lab technician who attended on the deceased boy were mercilessly beaten up, forcing the entire hospital staff to go on strike in protest. Even the medical staff from Bholath, Sultanpur Lodhi and Kapurthala went on strike to stand in solidarity with their Phagwara counterparts,” Bajwa said, adding that “such incidents have been occurring time and again as the AAP government and the state police failed to take action on previous such occasions”.
In a written statement, Bajwa said, “In September AAP MLA from Jalandhar Sheetal Angural’s brother Rajan Angural went to the civil hospital along with his supporters demanding a medico-legal report. When the emergency medical officer, Dr Harveen Kaur, refused to toe the line, they not only threatened her and the other para-medical staff present there but also damaged the property of the hospital and created a ruckus in full public view. The matter was reported to the Jalandhar police, but the latter refused to act under political pressure. Now such incidents where the government and the police refuse to act only embolden the disgruntled elements and put safety and security of the medical fraternity at risk.”
Violence against doctors and healthcare workers has been one of the most important and unsolved issues of the medical fraternity. Numerous incidents of violence have been reported over the years. These instances reached their peak earlier this year when Rajasthan-based Dr. Archana Sharma had committed suicide after being booked for the murder of a patient who had died due to Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). Doctors are being beaten up daily by unruly attendants but have got only limited relief in terms of law. Doctors have demanded Central Doctors Protection Act, however the same has still been out of reach of doctors.
Although the new Draft RMP (Professional Conduct) Regulations, 2022 have empowered the doctors to refuse treatment to the patients in case of “abusive, unruly, and violent patients or relatives”, there is still no concrete solution regarding the instances of violence that the doctors need to face on a daily basis.
Medical Dialogues had recently reported that while considering the issue, the Supreme Court recently sought responses from the Centre and others, including the erstwhile Medical Council of India (now NMC).
Recently filing an RTI application, Dr. KV Babu sought to know from the Ministry about the draft legislation ‘The Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (prohibition of violence and damage to property) Bill, 2019. The aim of this legislation is to penalise and imprison the accused who assault doctors and other healthcare workers. As per this law, the duration of imprisonment is not less than six months and it can get extended to five years. Besides, the guilty will also need to pay Rs 50,000 and the amount might go up to Rs 5 lakh.
While responding to a Rights to Information (RTI) query, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has reiterated that it is not working on any draft legislation bill addressing the issues regarding violence against healthcare practitioners.