We need azadi from violence against doctors on this Independence Day

Inclusion of the medical profession under the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) has radically altered the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship. Doctors are no longer regarded as “next to God” but are now reduced to the status of “service providers”. The outcome is a dissatisfied and often disgruntled “consumer”, the patient, who now does not hesitate to resort to violence.

In June, junior doctors in West Bengal went on a strike after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured at the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata by the relatives of a patient who died. This strike spread nationwide and doctors across the country joined the protest in solidarity.

But, this was not the first instance of assault against doctors.

Doctors face criminal prosecution, simply on the basis of complaints filed by the patients and/or their families.

No other profession, be it lawyers, architects, government servants, faces public allegations or undergoes public scrutiny as much as the medical profession does. Incidents of violence against doctors and hospital establishment hit the headlines in the media, which in turn conducts a ‘media trial’ and finds a ‘verdict’ against the doctor and the medical profession.

Violence against healthcare professionals is continuing, with the country remaining a silent spectator to the indignity that this noble profession is now forced to endure.

Earlier this month, the government has proposed draft legislation, according to which violence against doctors has been made a cognizable and nonbailable offence. The Bill seeks to punish people who assault on-duty doctors and other healthcare professionals with fine up to Rs 10 lakh or imprisonment for 10 years for “grievously injuring” doctors on duty.

No doctor will be able to do justice with his work in an environment of fear because of the constant threat of violence. It is therefore in the interest of public at large that such cases of physical violence against doctors must be condemned and controlled and must not be allowed to happen.

We hope that this Bill is soon enacted into a law. While this may not be the final answer, but it certainly is a positive step forwards.

Violence against doctors is unacceptable and should be condemned by all, including the general public.

We need azadi from violence against doctors on this Independence Day.

I wish you all a Happy Independence Day…

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