Maharashtra government is told to end doctors’ strikes over poor security in hospitals

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 05 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f742
  1. Patralekha Chatterjee
  1. 1New Delhi

The High Court in Mumbai has told the government of Maharashtra to act immediately to resolve a dispute with doctors in public hospitals who have been striking in protest at poor security against attacks from aggrieved relatives of patients they have treated.

The court has also issued a notice to the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors to withdraw its call for strikes once their grievances are dealt with.

The calls came as the court was considering a public interest litigation from a member of the public who has raised concerns about the inconvenience of doctors’ strikes for thousands of poor patients who rely on public hospitals in the state. The litigation calls for proper implementation of the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act 2011, which says that people providing essential services who strike illegally can be fined and imprisoned for a year. The next hearing of the action is scheduled to be heard on 7 February.

Sunny Khandare, president of one of the chapters of the doctors’ association, told the BMJ, “I would like to clarify that we did not go on strike. We did a token ‘mass bunk’ to make our point. We have been writing to the concerned government agency for several months, but not much has been done as yet. One of the biggest problems we face is lack of security. Doctors do their best to help patients. But if something goes wrong, patients’ families attack us. If the patient dies, the families always blame the doctor. There is an urgent need to step up security in government hospitals, to install CCTV cameras, and also to have counselling for patients so that they don’t behave like this.”

The association, which has nearly 6000 members, is for junior doctors and trainees in government hospitals. Khandare, a trainee doctor in Mumbai’s J J Hospital, said that resident doctors in public hospitals faced greater risks than those in private hospitals because of notoriously poor security in state run facilities. But they were also campaigning for higher salaries and better working conditions. They are demanding written assurances from the state government on these issues.

Last September medical staff at the state run Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital in Delhi faced nearly one attack a month from patients’ relatives and went on strike 20 times over six years to demand better security, the Associated Press reported. The hospital finally solved the problem by replacing its middle aged guards with younger bar bouncers and wrestlers.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f742


  • Analysis: Violence against doctors in China. (BMJ 2012;345:e5730, doi:10.1136/bmj.e5730).

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