Protests by private doctors in Karnataka were called off on Friday following a meeting with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday where some of the contentious clauses in the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill were discussed.
The Karnataka High Court, on Friday, had directed all private medical establishments and private doctors to restore their services forthwith in public interest. "The damage done to a patient is sometimes irretrievable, but the grievances of the doctors who are on strike can be examined by this Court in an appropriate proceeding. In this background, if the strike is permitted to be continued, it will only cause inconvenience to the general public," said the order by a division bench on a batch of petitions.
"I am happy my meeting with the representatives of doctors was successful. We have succeeded in resolving all issues around KPME Bill," tweeted Siddaramaiah after his meeting with doctors in the northern Karnataka town of Belagavi where the state legislature is convening.
Doctors in the state have been agitating since Thursday, protesting against the Bill which they have called draconian. Some of the thorny issues include a district-level grievance redressal committee which, the medical community feared, would lead to harassment and only add to the existing fora available for redressal; stringent punishment such as jail terms and a move to cap prices for procedures at private hospitals.
“We had detailed discussions on touchy issues. Finally, there is a happy ending to the doctors’ strike. We are grateful to the chief minister and health minister. We announce calling off our strike,” Dr H N Ravindra, president elect of the Indian Medical Association's Karnataka chapter was quoted by PTI as saying, at a press conference in Belagavi.
It is understood that the government was willing to modify the key points over which the doctors were agitating. "There was a win-win situation," Dr Prasanna HM, Vice President of the Private Hospitals & Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) told Outlook. The modalities will be worked out before the Bill is tabled, he said. The grievance redressal committee, which the doctors wanted to be scrapped, would serve as a forum for immediate relief for complaints from patients such as overbilling, he said.