Thiruvananthapuram: The medico strike that paralysed the public healthcare system in Kerala for the last four days has come to an end after the striking doctors and the state government reached a consensus to address outstanding concerns.
According to reports, the doctors have agreed to tow the government line and has nodded to extend the outpatient (OP) consultation hours till 6 pm in family health centres with a strength of three doctors.
Speaking to reporters, the minister said the Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA), which was spearheading the agitation, has agreed to call off the strike and extend OP time in state-run hospitals.
They have also agreed to give their full support to the 'Ardram Mission' where three doctors will be appointed in each family health centre, she said.
The minister said alternate arrangements would be made when doctors go on leave and reserve team of doctors would-be prepared.
The 'Ardram Mission' envisages basic facilities to all hospitals in the state and making government health centres patient-friendly.
On the KGMOA's plea to revoke the suspension of a doctor, she said if he submits an apology, the request can be considered.
The government had suspended a doctor at a health centre in Palakkad for refusing to attend work following the increase in OP timings.
The government had on Monday morning hardened its stand, saying action would be taken if the strike is not withdrawn.
Later in the evening, the KGMOA submitted letters to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and the heath minister expressing that they were ready for discussions.
Letters in this regard were handed over to the private secretaries of the Pinarayi and Shylaja, shortly, after which the government called the KGMOA for talks.
Doctors in government-run health facilities in the state had gone on an unnotified strike protesting a change in the working hours claiming it would be an unreasonable addition to their existing work load.
Earlier in the day, Shylaja had described the strike as illegal and had warned that the government would be forced to take action against the striking doctors.
The doctors had launched the indefinite stir on April 13 protesting the extension of (OP) time in government hospitals.
The services of post-graduate doctors and house surgeons were used by the government to attend to patients coming to the OPs during the stir, officials said.
Doctors in medical college hospitals were not part of the strike.
In Wayanad, family members of a 62-year-old tribal woman, who had come to the district hospital for treatment on Sunday and died on Monday morning at her home, alleged proper treatment was not provided due to the strike.
CPM workers had taken out a march to the hospital alleging that the striking doctors were responsible for her death and demanded action.
However, KGMOA secretary Dr Jitesh V said the woman was suffering from a respiratory infection and she was given medicines and sent back home on Sunday. She died at her home, he said.
The body was brought to the hospital on Monday and the association has suggested that autopsy be performed to find out if there was any negligence.
The Kerala Human Rights Commission (KHRC) had also asked the government to take immediate steps to resolve the issue as it was the common people who were facing hardships.
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