Rajasthan's Gehlot govt firm on Right to Health bill; doctors' strike intensifies

Over 14,000 serving government doctors, 1,500 medical teachers and 4,000 resident doctors boycotted work on Wednesday for 24 hours across the state.

Published: 29th March 2023 08:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th March 2023 09:15 PM   |  A+A-


Patients wait to receive treatments at the OPD of SMS Hospital amid a strike of resident doctors over the Rajasthan Right to Health Bill, in Jaipur, Tuesday, March 28, 2023. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

JAIPUR: In Rajasthan, the deadlock between the Gehlot government and the striking doctors over the Right To Health bill has intensified. This is negatively affecting patients. While the private doctors protesting against the bill for the last ten days observed a complete boycott of work through a  'Mahaband' across the state on Wednesday, many government doctors and teachers have decided to boycott work in solidarity with the protesters.

Over 14,000 serving government doctors, 1,500 medical teachers and 4,000 resident doctors boycotted work on Wednesday for 24 hours across the state.

While some alternate arrangements were made for Outpatient Departments (OPD) in government hospitals, they were proving to be insufficient. Many patients were left frustrated and angry unable to get treatment. A 3-year-old child died due to lack of treatment at MCH Hospital in Jalore district during the strike. The child's relatives allege the child died as there were no doctors to attend to the child.

Meanwhile, the Rajasthan government has taken a tough stance on government doctors participating in the strike. It has issued a circular to medical college principals to ensure uninterrupted services such as OPD, ICU, emergency services, and obstetrics. Strict instructions were given to ensure doctors and staff report for duty daily. The government warned of action against medical staff who fail to report for duty without a sanctioned leave. The government has also warned that there will be disciplinary action for boycotting work and negligence or misbehaviour with patients.

To maintain uninterrupted healthcare, doctors posted on administrative posts in SMS Hospital in Jaipur will take over the responsibility of the hospital, while the duty of block-wise duty doctors will be imposed on CHC or PHC. The Rajasthan Nurses Association has demanded that senior nursing officers be given the right to prescribe medicine.

The state health minister Parsadi Lal Meena has asserted that the government will not take back the bill at any cost. "If there's any problem with the bill, then we are ready to hold a discussion but the bill won't be taken back." 

The government has also approved new posts of Junior Residents, including 1000 new posts for all medical colleges in the state. Education Secretary T Ravikant has taken approval from the Finance Department, and the Principal of the Medical College has been instructed to conduct walk-in interviews to fill these positions. Sawai Mansingh Medical College in Jaipur alone will get about 450 junior residents, and other medical colleges will also appoint junior residents for the next 6 months.

However, with government doctors and faculty members in medical colleges going on a one-day strike in solidarity with private doctors agitating against the Right to Health Bill, medical services remained crippled in Rajasthan on Wednesday. Given the impasse between striking doctors and the Gehlot government, patients in the state are likely to face a tough time in the coming days.

Rajasthan, last week passed the Right to Health Bill, which gives every resident of the state the right to avail of free. The Out Patient Department (OPD) services and In-Patient Department (IPD) services at all public health facilities, becoming the first state to do so.

It is notable that the bill requires private hospitals to provide free treatment to patients in case of emergency, even if the patients cannot afford to pay.

However, private hospitals and doctors have opposed the bill calling it the "Right to Kill."

They argue that the bill does not provide a clear definition of emergency and its scope, which could result in a surge of patients seeking free treatment, leaving private hospitals struggling to cover their expenses. Doctors at private hospitals are also unhappy about other provisions of the bill which they claim are government schemes to loot private hospitals.

India Matters


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