Govt considers law to protect medical practitioners from ‘violence’

The first serious step has been taken in the direction of meeting a long-pending demand of medical practitioners for a law to protect them while discharging their duties. The Department of Health is studying a draft of the law jointly submitted by the state's Provincial Medical Service Association (UPPMSA), Uttar Pradesh Chapter of Indian Medical Association (UPIMA) and Uttar Pradesh Nursing Home Association (UPNHA).

It seeks to extend the benefit of the Act to all medical service persons, including registered medical practitioners, registered nurses, a medical or nursing student, a paramedical worker as well as any person employed in a medical institution. It proposes that acts of violence against medical professionals be considered as cognizable and non-bailable offences, to be punished under the law with a maximum imprisonment for three years and a fine extending up to Rs 50,000. In addition to the violence against medical service persons, the draft also has provisions for realising double the cost of damage or loss of property caused to a medical institution in the act of violence.

"There are two aspects to the act. The first being penal action against those who attack medical service providers, which will be extended to both private and government service providers. The second is the damage to property of the medical service institution. The department is taking legal opinion whether the second provision should be extended to private service institutions or not," said a senior official of Health Department.

In a government health system that is sustained by one doctor on more than 18,000 citizens, the pressure of public on medical service providers across the state is tremendous. Violence against medical service providers has become a routine affair in the state. In the Gandhi Ward of King George Medical University (KGMU), medical students and other service providers often become target of attendants of patients. Several times, the students of KGMU have protested against the violence and demanded protection. Similar protests and demands have also been raised by the PMS associations.

Dr Sachin Vaish, general secretary of the association said that the draft has been adapted from similar Acts in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The idea behind the act is to create a deterrent for the offenders who indulge in acts of violence against medical service providers, he said.

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