NEW DELHI: The Centre is mulling a law to deal with increasing instances of assaults on doctors, both in government and private sectors. On Monday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare constituted a 10-member inter-ministerial committee, with officials from health, home and law ministries to assess the “pros and cons” if a central law to penalise those who assault doctors is made.
The committee, which will hold its first meeting on Wednesday, also has medical superintendents of some of the hospitals directly under the Centre and representatives of doctors’ associations as its members.
Last month, two junior doctors of NRS Medical College in Kolkata were critically injured in a mob attack following the death of an 80-year old died during treatment. The strikes called by their protesting colleagues had triggered agitations in several other states.
“The formation of the committee is to show that we are serious about bringing down the instances of increasing attacks on doctors while on work,” a senior health ministry official said. Another official conceded that while there was already law against the crime in 16 states, there has not been a single conviction in any state so far.
Doctors’ bodies welcomed the initiative but also hoped that recommendations of the 10-member panel are not dumped like the suggestions made by a similar panel earlier. “...This should just be the beginning and the government should carry forward the momentum by enacting the law at the earliest,” said Ravi Wankhedkar, member, Indian Medical Association.
A draft law prepared by the IMA had already been shared by the ministry with the states last month. Harjit Singh Bhatti, former president of resident doctors’ association, AIIMS-Delhi,said the Centre should have moved for presenting the draft law in Parliament as states’ views had already been sought.
72 per cent docs assaulted on duty
There is no government data on assault on doctors but a recent study by IMA revealed that 72% of its 3.25 lakh members have experienced verbal or physical assault while on duty