MUMBAI: Despite a strong rap by the Bombay High Court, around 3,000 resident doctors in government hospitals in Maharashtra continued their mass casual leave agitation for the third day on Wednesday.
Health care services for the poor were hit significantly across the state as the medicos' agitation threatened to escalate with other government doctors expressing support and the state hitting back by serving show-cause notices to the resident doctors, officials of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) said.
In a stern warning, Medical Education Minister Girish Mahajan said if the resident doctors failed to resume duties by Wednesday evening, they could face disciplinary action.
Boosting the agitating doctors' cause, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Wednesday expressed support to the resident doctors' demand for implementation of the Violence Against Doctors Act, 2010, and adequate security provisions for them as per the high court directives.
IMA President Sagar Mundada said its 45,000 member-doctors in Maharashtra and over 200,000 in India also oppose any punitive action against the agitating resident medicos.
Late on Tuesday evening, MARD office-bearers said the association members would resume duties later Tuesday night or by Wednesday morning after the Bombay High Court rapped them for the continuing mass casual leave agitation.
But MARD office-barers' expectations were belied as the resident doctors continued their agitation for the third day.
Hearing a PIL on Tuesday, Bombay High Court Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice G.S. Kulkarni made strong observations on the resident doctors and asked them to join duties, failing which the government was free to take action against them.
"We have always obeyed the court orders and are appealing to all the resident doctors to report back for duties as soon as possible," a MARD spokesperson told IANS after the court observations.
The MARD agitation to protest frequent attacks on resident doctors by relatives of aggrieved patients, resulted in major disruptions in health-care at government hospitals, hundreds of scheduled surgeries were postponed and winding queues of poor patients witnessed outside the hospitals.
MARD President Yashowardhan Kabra said the sudden spate of attacks on medicos has left them shattered and "it is difficult to work under such life-threatening conditions".
In Mumbai, the government hospitals hit were KEM, Sion LTMG, Nair and Sir JJ Group, where a large number of resident doctors work.