23:45 GMT +320 January 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): Healthcare services across the country came to standstill on Monday as the Indian Medical Association (IMA) led a nation-wide doctors' strike in an expression of solidarity with protesting doctors in Kolkata and withdrew all non-essential services.

    Following almost a week-long doctors' agitation, which erupted in the Indian state of West Bengal and gradually spread across India over inadequate safety measures in medical institutions, India's Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan Singh on Monday said the government is mulling a proposal to introduce a law for doctors' protection.

    The agitation has gone viral on social media.

    "The government is mulling over introducing a law to protect doctors. We are asking the state governments to make specific laws to protect the doctors", said the Indian health minister.

    "These legislations can't be done overnight, they will take some time. We are studying the existing situation, looking at past records, incidents etc. What we have to do is ensure that such incidents never happen in this country again", he said.

    Dr Singh's statement came even as a delegation of junior doctors in Kolkata in India's West Bengal state were closeted in a meeting with the state's Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, making a representation to her that they would be happy to resume their duties and training, provided their security and safety is held paramount and assured.

    As of now, Chief Minister Banerjee has agreed to create grievance redressal cells in hospitals, appoint a nodal police officer to look after the security of the hospital and its staff, appoint public relations teams to deal with the families of admitted patients, prevent the filing of false cases against doctors and other medical staff, that no more than two relatives be allowed inside an emergency environment, as well as set up reinforced gates at all emergency departments.

    She has also agreed that bail will not be granted to the attackers of junior doctors Paribaha Mukhopadhyay and Yash Tekwani, who were thrashed and injured at the NRS Medical College last week following the death of an aged patient.

    Satisfied with the chief minister's assurances, the junior doctors are expected to suspend their strike later this evening.

    So far, five people have been arrested in connection with the beating up of the doctors.

    Monday's meeting was held at Nabanna, the state administrative headquarters.

    Doctors had earlier demanded that their meeting with the chief minister take place before the media; however, the state government ruled it out, but assured that the proceedings of the meeting would be recorded.



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