Even as 4,500 resident doctors in Maharashtra have not indicated yet if they are going to end their strike anytime soon, 40,000 medical practitioners associated with the Indian Medical Association on Friday afternoon ended their strike after state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured them of security at their workplaces.
A meeting was held on Friday between Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan and representatives of the resident doctors, an IMA member said.
The representatives of IMA called on the chief minister at Vidhan Bhavan in afternoon. Fadnavis told them that security has already been provided in 16 hospitals since Thursday. "Government is working on (providing) security to doctors and more arrangements will be done within ten days," he said.
The IMA had joined the strike two days back. The strike was originally started by the resident doctors in Mumbai following a brutal beating of a doctor by relatives of a patient, who passed away during treatment.
With the IMA associated doctors returning to work, the surging number of patients have heaved a sigh of relief as they were at the receiving end following the agitation. The civic hospitals usually cater to the economically weaker sections, mostly those who cannot otherwise afford treatment in expensive private hospitals.
Meanwhile, the state's Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also gave an ultimatum to striking resident doctors to resume duty or face legal action even as the Bombay High Court gave the state-run hospitals an option to terminate their services. "Enough is enough. If the doctors fail to resume work today, government will not sit quietly," Fadnavis said, describing as "adamant" and "insensitive" the attitude of doctors whose strike in support of enhanced security at hospitals entered the fifth day.
"We cannot leave the patients to die. I am making a final attempt to break the deadlock by meeting the doctors' representatives. If no solution is found and doctors don't resume work, they should be prepared to face legal action," the Chief Minister told the state legislative assembly.
The Bombay High Court also stepped in, seeing the plight of the patients, asking the government to provide security and directing the doctors to return to work.
With the doctors away from work during the strike, the functioning of the OPDs and general wards in the government and the civic hospitals took the actual brunt.
"The OPDs in KEM, Sion and Nair hospitals have not yet become fully operational. Some doctors are managing them but it has increased the waiting period for patients," Avinash Supe, dean of KEM Hospital, had told PTI earlier.
Asked about the striking doctors resuming duty, Supe said, "Very few have returned to work. Hence, full medical services will not be available immediately."
The High Court had on Thursday directed the resident doctors to resume work immediately. However, the order was not available on the high court website till Thursday night and therefore, protesting doctors decided to wait.
After the court order, the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) late Thursday night appealed to the striking medical practitioners to join duty.
"The order is now available on the HC website and we find it satisfactory. Now, there is a meeting scheduled with some state ministers at 1 pm today where we will discuss the issue (about their safety) once again," Swapnil Meshram, general secretary of MARD, had said.
After holding a meeting with Fadnavis on Wednesday, the doctors decided to wait for a copy of the minutes before taking a call on joining duty.
In a bid to end the strike, Fadnavis proposed setting up a panel to resolve security issues in state-run hospitals.
"We have been fooled in the past when promises and assurances made by officials were not strictly implemented. This time we are being careful," said a MARD official, explaining the delay in the doctors returning to work.
Nearly 4,000 resident doctors have stayed away from work since Monday, demanding enhanced security in the wake of a string of attacks on their colleagues by patients' relatives at government hospitals across the state.
Updated Date: Mar 24, 2017 17:12 PM