Karnataka doctors' strike enters third day

Doctors holding a protest during an indefinite strike against Karnataka Private Medical Establishment bill in Bengaluru on Thursday

The protest started on Monday with the doctors of Private Hospitals Association and Indian Medical Association (IMA) protesting against the proposed KPME Act.

"However, emergency services, selective surgeries, dialysis and deliveries will be carried out", Private Hospitals And Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) president C Jayanna said.

"The state Advocate General (Madhusudan Naik) has submitted a letter to the bench from the Chief Minister (Siddaramaiah) assuring the High Court that the state government would discuss the provisions of the amendment bill with the representatives of the doctors association on Friday at Belagavi", said Veeranna quoting Naik.

The state government had included stringent provisions in the amendment bill to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act 2007 to regulate the functioning of private hospitals, including their costs of treatment and redressing the grievances of their patients.

On Thursday notices expressing regret over shut OPDs were put up in all private hospitals.

The division bench comprising acting Chief Justice HG Ramesh and Justice PS Dinesh Kumar observed that the doctors should call off their protest as the government has an "open mind on the issue", and asked them to participate in the talks convened by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

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Amid reports that the strike has caused several deaths in the state with serious patients being unattended to, more than 22,000 doctors went on an indefinite strike in Bengaluru alone.

Kumar said doctors have a responsibility and by shutting medical services they are making common man suffer and said that the government has no intention to harass doctors or the private medical institutions.

A 24-year-old passed away at a private hospital in Dharwad district allegedly due to delay in getting treatment.

The proposed amendments in the KPME Act will make hospitals accountable for medical negligence and the doctors were opposing it.

The private doctors have added that the government would be better served by raising the standards of government hospitals.

"The state government should hold talks with the private doctors on their demands at the earliest, as thousands of patients are severely affected by the strike in the state", urged Shettar before the walkout along with other BJP lawmakers.

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The crippling of medical services led to furore in the Karnataka Assembly, presently in progress in Belagavi. "I will be meeting the chief minister on the issue", Kumar said.

According to PTI, Health Minister Ramesh Kumar said it was not a prestige issue for him.

Siddaramaiah will also meet members of the doctors' association Friday.

It was doctors who have taken it as a prestige issue, as they have called for a statewide agitation, when the bill is yet to be tabled, he said.

The opposition BJP which was unhappy with the minister's response, staged a walk out of the House demanding immediate resolution.

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