HC concerned over ‘condition’ of doctors in public hospitals

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Friday voiced its ‘concern’ over the condition of doctors working in public hospitals and asked the Maharashtra government to consider all the aspects like their duty hours, pay scale etc and file a reply spelling out its stand on the recent strike by resident doctors. The HC also observed that the ‘right to strike’ has been upheld by the Supreme Court. A bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Nitin Jamdar was seized with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by activist Afak Mandaviya, highlighting the impact of the sudden strike called by the resident doctors in the city.

The PIL filed through advocate Datta Mane also sought action against the striking doctors, claiming they had breached their own undertaking submitted before the HC in March 2017. On Friday, when the matter was called for hearing, Mane informed the bench that the doctors had called off their strike. He also informed the bench that the doctors had given the government an August 31 ultimatum, to consider their demands.

“Has the government received any notice of the demands?” CJ Nandrajog sought to know from government pleader Poornima Kantharia, who could not give an affirmative answer. At this, CJ Nandrajog observed, “You (government) need to understand that even the Supreme Court has upheld the right to strike, but that is in exceptional circumstances.”

“We are aware of the fact that the job of the doctor is not easy, given the working hours, the environment in the hospital etc. We do understand your (doctors’) state wherein some are also compelled to work continuously for 48 hours,” CJ Nandrajog observed. The bench further compared the working hours of doctors in private hospitals and those of their government counterparts. “To thoroughly examine a patient in a private hospital, a doctors takes at least four hours. But here, in public hospitals, one doctor is made to check at least 100 patients within two hours,” CJ Nandrajog observed.

“Thus, we expect government to consider all these aspects and file its reply spelling out its stand in the matter. We will hear it again on August 28,” CJ Nandrajog said while adjourning the matter.

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