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Rajasthan Medical Council seeks information on striking doctors from medical colleges and universities

The ongoing protest of Rajasthan doctors against the Right to Health Bill has drawn the attention of the State Medical Council and the State Human Rights Commission. The Rajasthan Medical Council has now requested the various universities and medical colleges to provide information about the striking doctors. Dr. Manish Sharma, the registrar of the Rajasthan Medical Council, has written to the Principal and administrators of hospitals such as Sawai Man Singh Medical College in Jaipur, RUHS College of Medical Science, JLN Medical College in Ajmer, Sardar Patel Medical College in Bikaner, RNT Medical College in Udaipur, Dr. Sampurnanand Medical College in Jodhpur, GMC Kota, Jhalawar Medical College, and all government medical colleges under Raj MES, asking for details about the doctors participating in the strike.

 

The Registrar of the Rajasthan Medical Council wrote to various universities and medical colleges requesting details of striking doctors, mentioning the circumstances in state hospitals due to the ongoing strike. The letter noted that the State Human Rights Commission had taken suo motu cognizance of the situation and directed the council to take action against the striking doctors under relevant acts and rules. The council has also been asked to submit a factual report to the Commission for assessment by April 10, 2023.

 

The Rajasthan Medical Council has instructed the heads of medical colleges and hospitals in the state to furnish details of striking doctors, such as their names, dates of birth, and council registration numbers within three days via email to the council’s address, [email protected]. The letter also instructed the medical colleges to ensure that the information is provided, so that legal action can be taken against the striking doctors.

The Council’s move comes in response to notices issued by the Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission to the Principal Secretary of Medical and Health and Registrar of Rajasthan Medical Council on Wednesday, asking for an explanation on what action has been taken against the striking doctors in the state. The Commission emphasized that the act of doctors is a violation of their oath and an infringement of their moral duty and that it cannot remain a “dumb spectator” of this abuse of human rights.

 

The notice also emphasized that it is the responsibility of the state government to enact laws to enhance healthcare services for the betterment of its citizens. The ‘Right to Health’ bill was passed with this goal in mind, and it is now a law. The notice further stated that if there are any provisions in the Act that contradict the Constitution, they can be challenged in court. However, instead of challenging the law, private doctors have been on strike for the past 12 days. This strike has been supported by government hospital doctors, disrupting healthcare services across the state. The commission’s chairman, Justice GK Vyas, has appealed to the striking doctors to end their strike immediately and resume their work for the well-being of patients and humanity.

 

Earlier, it was reported that a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed before the Rajasthan High Court seeking direction from the state to take action against the striking doctors and declare the Rajasthan Essential Services Maintenance Act (RESMA) for maintaining health services. The PIL also requested the cancellation of the licenses or registrations of doctors and the revocation of the recognition of private diagnostic centres that participated in the strike.

According to the latest report by the Times of India, the HC division bench of acting Chief Justice MM Shrivastav and Justice Anil Upman, while considering the PIL on Friday, issued notice to the State Government, the agitating private doctors’ association, and Rajasthan Medical Council, among others. The bench also asked the State to provide the minutes of talks held with the doctors for breaking the deadlock in the next hearing scheduled for April 11, 2023.

However, the bench observed that the PIL was not well-researched and was filed for publicity purposes. The bench pointed out that the petition did not even contain newspaper clippings to support the raised points. The bench also noted that lawyers have lost moral authority for appearing in cases concerning strikes as they themselves were on strike for over a month recently.

Meanwhile, the counsel for the government, Advocate General Mahendra Singhvi, requested the HC bench to declare the ongoing strike by doctors illegal. He submitted that the Right to Health Bill was passed after holding detailed discussions with the doctors and scrutinized by the standing committee of the Assembly.

 

Private hospitals doctors in Rajasthan have been staging protests against the proposed “Right to Health” bill, which was introduced by the State Government to ensure access to treatment for all residents. However, the medical community in the State has been vehemently opposing the bill, which they deemed draconian and illogical. The doctors under Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Society (PHNHS) and Jaipur Medical Association have identified several clauses in the bill that they claim lack clarity and seek to restrict doctors’ powers.

One of the major issues that the doctors have raised pertains to the clauses that mandate the treatment of patients for any medical emergency, free of charge, at both government and private hospitals. They have pointed out that the State has not provided a definition of what constitutes an emergency or how private hospitals and doctors will be reimbursed for these medical expenses.

In addition, the Jaipur branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has also expressed opposition to the establishment of a separate grievance redressal committee for addressing patient complaints. Despite the bill’s passage in the State Assembly last week, doctors are continuing their protests and demanding its withdrawal. Private doctors have shut down medical services throughout the State, while government doctors and faculty members in medical colleges joined a one-day strike on Wednesday to express solidarity with the protesting private doctors.