Dr Vandana’s death: KGMOA calls off protest after CM assures to amend hospital protection law

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Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi/Kottayam: Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) has called off their protest over the killing of a young doctor a day ago after Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened an emergency high-level meeting and decided to issue an ordinance to amend the hospital protection law.

In the wake of widespread protests by doctors over the killing of a young doctor a day ago, the Kerala government on Thursday decided to issue an ordinance to ensure the safety of healthcare professionals in hospitals. Doctors intensified their agitations today, seeking justice for Dr Vandana Das who was stabbed to death at a government hospital in Kollam district by a man brought there by the police in the wee hours of Wednesday morning.

Some of these measures, including the issuance of the ordinance and the installation of CCTV cameras, were suggested by the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) in a letter to the CM for strengthening security in state-run hospitals.

The ordinance to amend the Kerala Healthcare Service Persons and Healthcare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act, 2012 would be introduced in the next cabinet meeting, a statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said.

The KGMOA thus withdrew its agitation after the CM's announcement about the proposed ordinance. However, KGMOA-affiliated doctors will skip VIP duty until the assurances are actualised.

The association of medical professionals had also suggested that armed police be deployed at aid posts to be set up at hospitals that have emergency wards. Apart from this, it also sought the implementation of government orders regarding the triage system in such wards and the appointment of more chief medical officers (CMOs) so that there can be two CMOs in every shift in such wards.

With regard to the medical examination of persons in police custody, the association suggested making arrangements, including the appointment of more doctors in jails.

Prior to sending the letter, KGMOA and other doctors' associations met Vijayan in the morning and discussed with him their grievances and demands.

It was also decided that police outposts would be set up in all major hospitals in the state, the statement said. State Health Minister Veena George, Chief Secretary V P Joy along with the secretaries of health, law, and medical education, the state police chief, ADGPs, and various other officials attended the meeting.

The government decided to strengthen security in hospitals run by it, by dividing them into three categories, with the first category comprising medical colleges, district hospitals, general hospitals, and women's and children's hospitals where police outposts would be set up.

The CMO statement did not mention details about the other two categories of hospitals.

Besides police outposts, there should be comprehensive police surveillance, CCTV cameras, and warning systems in all three categories of hospitals to create conditions where doctors and other healthcare professionals could work safely, the CMO statement said.

Additionally, a security audit would be conducted every six months in all hospitals by the health and police departments under the supervision of the concerned district collectors. "It was also decided in the meeting to explore the possibility of appointing two doctors in the emergency wards of government hospitals at night," the statement said.

Regarding taking accused persons and those of a violent nature for medical examination, the CM said a special security system should be put in place for that.

The government's move came hours after the Kerala High Court said that the incident that led to the killing of the young medical professional had been an outcome of "systemic failure".

A majority of doctors had not reported to work in the past 24 hours, demanding that the government bring out new legislation for the protection of hospitals with immediate effect.

The functioning of hospitals was largely hit across the state due to the agitation by medical students and doctors.

Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and casualties were exempted from the stir, but the Out Patient (OP) services in the state hospitals were affected.

With PTI inputs

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