Agitating junior doctors in Kolkata on Sunday agreed to meet West Bengal Mamata Banerjee at a venue selected by her. However, the doctors demanded that the meeting should be open for media coverage and all medical college representatives should be present.
Banerjee had on Saturday invited the agitators for closed-door talks, but the offer was turned down by them. Talking to the media after a two-and-half-hour-long meeting of their governing body, a spokesperson of the joint forum of junior doctors said, "We are keen to end this impasse. We are ready to hold talks with the chief minister at a venue of her choice, provided it is held in the open, in the presence of media persons, and not behind closed doors."
The spokesperson said the venue should be spacious enough to accommodate representatives from all medical colleges and hospitals in the state.
Earlier, the agitators had insisted that Banerjee visit the NRS Medical College and Hospital, the epicentre of the agitation.
"We want to join our duties as early as possible in the best interests of the common people once all our demands are met with adequately and logically through a discussion.
"We are hopeful that the chief minister will be considerate enough to solve the problems," he said, adding that the strike would continue till a solution was worked out.
Junior doctors across the state are observing a strike in protest against an assault on two of their colleagues at the NRS, allegedly by the family members of a patient who died on Monday night.
Services continued to remain affected for the sixth day on Sunday in the emergency wards, outdoor facilities and pathological units of many state-run hospitals and private medical facilities in the state, leaving several patients in the lurch.
On Saturday, the junior doctors demanded an unconditional apology from the chief minister for her remarks at the SSKM Hospital on Thursday. She alleged that outsiders had entered medical colleges to create disturbance and that the agitation as a handiwork of the CPI(M) and the BJP.
The junior doctors had demanded that the chief minister come to the NRS Medical College and Hospital where two of their colleagues were assaulted and seriously injured.
The chief minister on Saturday said her government has not invoked the ESMA even after five days of agitation by the junior doctors, and appealed to them to rejoin duties.
Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Sunday said it will go ahead with its strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services across the country in the wake of the recent assault on doctors in West Bengal.
The announcement came a day after Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan asked states to consider enacting specific legislation for protecting doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence. The apex medical body, IMA, however, demanded a comprehensive central law in dealing with violence on doctors and healthcare staff, and in hospitals.
Security measures and the determinants leading to violence should also be addressed, it said in a statement.
Exemplary punishment for perpetrators of violence should be a component of the central law and suitable amendments should be brought in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the IMA said.
The IMA said all non-essential services, including outdoor patient department (OPD) services, will be withdrawn for 24 hours from 6 am on Monday to 6 am Tuesday.
Emergency and casualty services will continue to function, it said. The medical body had launched a four-day nationwide protest from Friday and wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding enactment of a central law to check violence against healthcare workers.
It had also called for a countrywide strike on June 17 with withdrawal of non-essential health services.
(With PTI inputs)