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Mamata Banerjee fails to end impasse at government hospitals; mass resignations begin

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Kolkata, West Bengal, India Jun 13, 2019, 10.13 PM (IST) Pooja Mehta

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee intervened four days after the junior doctors at Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital began their agitation after a doctor was brutally beaten up by a patient’s family on Sunday. However, she failed to end the impasse and the junior doctors refused to return to work. 

Banerjee reached SSKM hospital in South Kolkata on Thursday morning and issued an ultimatum for doctors to join work by 2 pm. “The doctors must get back to work by 2 pm as the protests have affected services at government hospitals across the state. Those doctors who don’t return to work must leave the hostel. Agitating doctors are outsiders. The government will not support them in any way. I condemn doctors who have gone on strike. Policemen die in the line of duty but the police don’t go on a strike,” Banerjee said.

“The state spends Rs 25 lakh on each doctor and then they shirk work. This won’t be tolerated. Are they doctors?” she added. 

The chief minister launched a blistering attack on the BJP claiming that they were adding communal colours to this incident. 

Slammed for not even visiting protesting doctors since the outrage over Monday’s assault on the junior doctor, the protesters raised slogans against the Banerjee on her arrival at the SSKM hospital.

On the other hand, junior doctors maintained their stand and continued the strike.  The doctors demanded deployment of armed police officers on hospital premises to ensure their safety and security. 

A delegation from the NRS hospital met the Governor of West Bengal Keshari Nath Tripathi and briefed him about the situation. “We told the Governor about the problems we are facing. We had expected that the chief minister would stand by us. She visited SSKM hospital but instead of standing by us, she termed us as ‘outsiders’. All that we demanded was the arrest of the accused persons and deployment of armed police officers. The way our colleague was attacked was inhuman. His skull has been injured seriously,” said the delegation from the NRS hospital. 

Mass resignations began on Thursday evening as 18 doctors from Sagar Dutta Medical College and Hospital sent their resignation to the state health department. The hospital where the doctor was assaulted saw the resignation of principal, superintendent and five other doctors from the forensic medicine department. 

The superintendent of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital wrote to the state health department that the entire staff of the hospital went for a complete shut down following the chief minister’s statements. The superintendent further added that it was difficult to run the hospital beyond 24 hours without adequate manpower and security. 

On Monday, a clash broke out at NRS Medical College and Hospital after an elderly patient died. Relatives of the deceased claimed medical negligence and beat up two junior doctors. One of the junior doctors, Paribaha Mukhopadhyay suffered serious injuries on his skull and is presently undergoing treatment at a city hospital. Since Monday night, junior doctors are on a strike and demanding safety from the government and police.