Doctors stage nationwide strike over 'inhuman' working conditions

Protesting doctors win, Mamata agrees to live media coverage

"Over 40,000 doctors and other medical practitioners in Maharashtra have made a decision to support their colleagues in West Bengal who are protesting against their Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee", an IMA official said.

In the meeting, the doctors are expected to demand better infrastructure at state-run hospitals - the lack of which often exposes them to protests by patients' families - better security and the arrest of the attackers at NRSHospital. A senior official said Banerjee, who is also the health minister, would take a call on the matter.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has called for a day long nationwide strike and withdrawal of Out-Patient Department (OPD) services, however essential and emergency services will not be affected. The chief minister told the striking doctors that no doctor has been booked by the state government.

He said that the agitating doctors have agreed to all the points suggested in the letter and the live media coverage is "a very simple demand to maintain transparency".

Doctors, who have been protesting in West Bengal ever since the attack a week ago, were due to hold talks with the government after the state authorities permitted the media to cover the meeting. She also stressed that a group of doctors had met her and expressed their willingness to join duty, a claim vehemently refuted by the striking doctors.

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The representatives of the joint forum of junior doctors also sought exemplary punishment for those involved in the assault on doctors at NRS Medical College and Hospital on 11 June.

Doctors at the Centre-run Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital, RML Hospital, as well as Delhi government facilities such as GTB Hospital, Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital and Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital are joining the strike.

West Bengal health secretary, MoS Chandrima Bhattacharya and other state officials were present in the meeting, besides 31 junior doctors.

Banerjee softened her stand on Saturday and said her government did not want to take action against junior doctors and hurt their careers.

In a show of solidarity, medical practitioners across the country have chose not to work, leaving patients in the lurch.

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