Congress MLAs favour diluting medical bill; health minister threatens to quit

Thousands of private doctors go on indefinite strike in Karnataka

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah was quoted as requesting a delegation of doctors, who met him at Belagavi, to withdraw their protest, saying the government's intention to bring the amendments to the Act was not to trouble them.

After talks between representatives of the Karnataka chapter of the Indian Medical Association and Siddaramaiah failed on Monday, the agitating doctors threatened to continue their protest in Belagavi and also launch an indefinite strike if stringent clauses are not dropped.

About 300 private doctors will be on 24-hour relay hunger strike in batches near the Souvrna Soudha in the state's northern town till four provisions in the bill are withdrawn.

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.

Calling it a "draconian", the doctors from across the state are protesting in Belagavi to draw the attention of the State government as the winter session is underway.

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The out-patient departments in private hospitals, which were shut on Monday across the state, will however resume services from Tuesday.

"The government can fix the cost of treating patients under its health scheme in private hospitals but the same cost cannot be applied for treating private or other patients", noted Veeranna.

Dr Rajashekar Bellary, the state president of IMA Karnataka, told The New Indian Express that surgeries have been postponed but emergency services would be handled by government hospitals.

Meanwhile, MLC Ivan Desoza tabled the Joint Select Committee report on proposed amendment bill in the house for consideration. 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.

"I have read in the media that three people have died due to the strike by doctors of private hospitals".

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