Bengaluru: The Karnataka high court on Friday passed an order directing all private medical practitioners to resume work immediately, thereby putting an end to a doctor’s strike that has lasted almost five days.
The order came barely an hour before Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah concluded a meeting with protesting private medical establishment bodies in Belagavi (formerly Belgaum).
Mentioning Article 21 of the Constitution, Right to Life, a division bench of the high court comprising acting chief justice H.G. Ramesh and justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar said any grievance of the doctors would be considered separately in duly constituted legal proceedings.
After his meeting with representatives of various private medical establishments and doctors in Belagavi, Siddaramaiah said on Twitter on Friday, “I am happy my meeting with the representatives of Doctors was successful. We have succeeded in resolving all issues around KPME Bill."
The chief minister did not disclose any information on whether the government had agreed to any of the demands of the private medical practitioners.
Thousands of doctors from at least 14 districts of the state had abstained from duties such as providing out patient department (OPD) services and elective surgeries to oppose at least four clauses (of the 14) of the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill 2017—an amendment of the 2007 Act.
Emergency services, dialysis, chemo, radiotherapy and other inpatient services were not stopped during the strike.
Amendments to the Act include jail terms and increase in fines for doctors for charging prices higher than those prescribed by the government, setting up of more redressal committees and price control in medical procedures, among other things.
The Bengaluru-based Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) had decided to withdraw its support to the strike on Thursday evening, after the high court requested the private doctors’ bodies to resume work—a decision not supported by all the protesting doctors as PHANA only represents 327 hospitals in Bengaluru.
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cited the strike as another reason to demand the ouster of Bengaluru district incharge minister K.J.George in a bid to disrupt the Winter legislative session of the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government in the state ahead of next year’s assembly elections.