The seven-day-old strike by doctors in West Bengal medical colleges and hospitals, which spread all over India, brought the healthcare service in the country to a grinding halt. It is most distressing that people fail to realise that a doctor can only perform operation, but the survival of a patient cannot be controlled wholly by a doctor. Which doctor will ever want that the patient whom he/she is treating should ever die? In this perspective, is it fair that a doctor is beaten black and blue just because a patient fails to survive? Here it is worth mentioning that though Mamata Banerjee agreed to accept doctors’ demand after one week, she should not have taken a hard line early on. She was convinced that her political rivals were behind the strike for political gains and she continued to abuse and threaten the doctors, ignoring the fact that there were genuine concerns, which the doctors faced and needed to be addressed as early as possible. For, ever since BJP breached her citadel, she sees saffron in every action that opposes her and Lord Ram’s hand in her political setbacks. She failed in her duty as a CM. What is more painful is the fact the silence of the so-called intellects and award-wapsi gang, especially the left leaning ones of West Bengal, which emboldened Mamata to run roughshod over administration. The doctors’ strike had nothing to do with saffron, Lord Ram, politics or Bengali culture or pride. It had everything to do with the failure of Mamata as CM and the failure of her administration. She came to power, combating the left atrocities, and won laurels. She is now imagining that she is fighting the rightists, but she is actually falling into her traps through repeated misadventures. The primary reason is the near total abdication of the state government from essential, primary healthcare, where it has become a marketable commodity for profit. Next, the merchants of healthcare have prepared the public, with media barrage, that any disease is curable, no matter the cost, with the insurance merchants being roped in. Also, the public were primed with artful pandering to their worst fears of illness and disability. The policy wonks also were managed so that the state policies tend to favour big corporate hospitals, where even reputed medical institutions, under the government, were not empanelled, in the first place. Also, single-doctor establishments are dying and the graduated ones will, henceforth, need to seek employment in these medical conglomerates. Therefore, who is to bell the cat?
Ensuring a security zone for hospital personnel is certainly an imperative need these days, as the law and order scenario is at its worst. Nevertheless, this is not the only factor to improve the health of doctor-patient rapport. Counselling is an important tool to alter the behaviour and attitude of patients and their relatives towards hospital care and its limitations. Meanwhile, the doctors too cannot be exonerated for their prejudicial words and deeds, albeit their stress conditions. We need strong malpractice law, resulting in good medical protocols, as in the developed western world. Country’s bullying and rage culture due to inadequacy is responsible for this. But doctors also have a culture of my way or highway. When we ask for clarifications, the response is you are not a doctor and I am. Having said all this, it is apt to say that the strike by doctors was essential. The hospital administration happens to be in one of the worst states. This is not the first time a doctor is beaten. It happens 5-10 times every year. After the accord between Mamata and doctors, it happened in Delhi’s Bawana and Maharashtra’s Thane. Every time the administration makes a drama that action will be taken and security will be improved, but so far not any improvement is found. Netas and ministers are provided Z-category security, but doctors, who serve the people, are provided no security. What a democracy! Security is the basic need for making a good working environment. No doubt, this burning issue cannot be any longer allowed to hang fire. It must be addressed forthwith. Doctors must be provided adequate security, so that they can function without any fear.
By Deepak Kumar Rath