Duty of Care

Duty of Care
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The doctors associated with almost six hospitals of the Government Medical College (GMC) have gone on a strike. The reason for this rather general strikes is that these doctors feel that they are victims of a pay anomaly. The victims of the doctors’ strike are poor and hapless patients, especially those who cannot afford private medical care and attention. This constitutes a sheer travesty. The implication is that if patients suffer, then this will move the administration in listening to the doctors’ grievances and remove the wage(pay) anomaly. Generally speaking, strikes are held to make a point. And, there are multiple other ways to do this. Rather than go on an indefinite strike, doctors could for a “pen down” option or maybe desist from working for an hour a day, keeping open the option of treating critical patients who need emergency care. Indefinite strike is then uncalled for. Having said this, the administration must look into the grievances of doctors and , to the extent possible, address and redress these. Perhaps, one measure could be to link productivity with pay and devise management methods that are akin to the methods employed in the private sector. Public health, again speaking generally, is a public good which has to and must be delivered seamlessly to alleviate the burden on the general masses. And, in the public health ecosystem both the doctors and the administration, including the public are stakeholders. The point of delineating this is that a stakeholder approach could be undertaken to deal with the issues and problems of the sector. If this approach is undertaken, then the respective relationships become somewhat cooperative and not adversarial. When the zero sum thinking inherent in the adversarial system is disavowed, and all stakeholders appreciate each others’ viewpoints , perspectives and problems, then arriving at satisfactory solution becomes possible. Therefore, in the public interest and for the sake of the larger public good, this approach must be undertaken and taken recourse to. Moreover, doctors are also bound by the Hippocratic oath and medical ethics thereof to perform their ethical functions and duties. They must perform this role with due diligence. All in all , no one appears t be better off if the strike becomes prolonged. All stakeholders must come together and devise solutions wherein everyone’s welfare is improved and enhanced. The primary beneficiary must be the poor and the vulnerable who have no choice but to visit public hospitals.

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