Will revisit the issue of framing central law to protect doctors: Union health minister

PTI New Delhi | Updated on June 17, 2019 Published on June 17, 2019

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan (file pic)   -  THE HINDU

Amid protests by the medical fraternity across the country over violence against doctors in hospitals, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the government will “revisit” the issue of drafting a central law regarding the safety of medicos at healthcare facilities.

Vardhan said he has already written to all states requesting chief ministers to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence, along with suggesting a model law proposed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

“We will revisit this problem and see if we can do something at the Central level about drafting any such law. It was visited earlier by our law people,” he told presspersons outside Parliament.

The Union Minister further said this is not a Centre versus state issue, while stressing that the safety of doctors was not debatable.

“Doctors should not be beaten by anybody in the premises of the hospital or outside and there is no difference of opinion on this,” he said.

Asked if any proposal on drafting a central law in this regard can come up in this session of Parliament, Vardhan said, “This is not something that can be made overnight. It will obviously require time to study. I have to get old records. This matter had come up in 2017 also and deliberations had taken place.”

“So, for me to say something that I can get something done within a few days will be a tall claim, but our intentions are right and our aim is that such incidents should never be repeated in this country.”

Vardhan had on Saturday written to all chief ministers and had attached a copy of the IMA’s draft Act, the Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017. He also drew the attention of all states and Union Territories for strict action against any person who assaults doctors.

He cited a letter dated July 7, 2017, sent by the Union Health Ministry to all the states chief secretaries, which contains the decision taken by an Inter-Ministerial Committee constituted by the ministry to review the issues raised by IMA.

The committee, in its report, had recommended that the health ministry should suggest to all state governments which do not have specific legislation to protect doctors and health professionals to consider one to strictly enforce the provisions of special legislation wherever they exist or enforce the IPC/CrPC provisions with vigour.

“The IMA has raised this concern many a times. Since ‘police’ and ‘public order’ are state subjects, the Government of India on many occasions has drawn the attention of state governments to the urgent need for a robust criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention and control of crime,” Vardhan had said.

The draft of The Protection of Medical Service Persons and Medical Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss of Property) Act, 2017, circulated to the states, includes clauses on penalty and recovery in case of loss/ damage to property.

Scores of doctors across the country have been holding protests and boycotting work in support of their striking colleagues in West Bengal and have been demanding a comprehensive Central law for their protection.

The IMA had also written to Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers in hospitals. The apex doctors body has called for a nationwide strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services.

Published on June 17, 2019
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