Private doctors' strike hits out-patient care in Karnataka

The crowded Out Patient Department at Chaluvamba Hospital in Mysuru on Tuesday as private hospitals remained shut in protest against KPME bill

Pvt hospital doctors picket Karnataka Assembly

Even as five persons died including an infant throughout the state as the doctors continue to protest against the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act (Amendment) - 2017, the joint committee on grievance redressal committee has recommended dropping the jail clause from the clause.

The doctors have started a relay hunger strike in three districts to protest against the bill.

However, the Association of Healthcare Providers of India and other private hospital associations said emergency services would remain unaffected.

More worrying for the government is that the speculative reports of deaths owing to doctors' strike in different parts of Karnataka.

The private doctors are staging the hunger strike at Belagavi, about 500 km from the state capital Bengaluru, where the 10-day winter session of the state legislature began on Monday and the entire government machinery, including the cabinet, officials and lawmakers will stay put till November 24.

Speaking to PTI at Belagavi, national president of Indian Medical Association, Dr Ravi Wankhedakar, said there was anguish among doctors over the bill.

The doctors are opposing the proposed amendments to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, 2007, to make private hospitals and nursing homes accountable, stating that they are detrimental to the medical profession. The bill authorises the state government to fix the rate of treatment provided in private hospitals.

According to IMA's Karnataka Chapter President H.N. Ravindra, almost 76 per cent of patients under the government health schemes are refereed to private hospitals or clinics, as state-run hospitals lack expertise and facilities to treat them for various diseases. "The government is contemplating restrictions on private nursing homes which charge the poor exorbitantly". They fear that the BJP and JD (S) might use it to corner the government when the bill is taken up for discussion as the two parties have already extended support to agitating doctors.

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