The Nepal Medical Association has postponed its phase-wise protests by a week after an agreement with the government on Monday on amending the provisions of the newly enforced Criminal Code relating to medical negligence and recklessness by doctors.
“We are positive about today’s agreement. At the Health Ministry’s request, we have postponed our protests until Monday,” NMA President Dr Mukti Ram Shrestha told the Post. “However, if the government misses this deadline, we will shut all non-emergency medical services across the country from Tuesday.”
“We have assured the agitating doctors from our end and will forward the draft to the Law Ministry. However, we have to follow the due procedure for its implementation as the amendment proposal should be passed by the Cabinet,” State Minister for Health and Population Dr Surendra Kumar Yadav told the Post.
“Health Minister Upendra Yadav is currently attending a WHO regional meeting in India and will return only on Thursday. So we have requested the agitating doctors to wait until Monday,” Dr Yadav added.
Both the parties reached an agreement late Monday evening following a three-hour long discussion, over the contested provisions of the Criminal Code.
In the five-point agreement, the government has pledged to amend Sub-clause 2 of Clause 230 that allows non-licensed medical professionals to treat patients.
The NMA has demanded revision to the provision to suit the changed context where doctors and health workers are available across Nepal. According to the agitating doctors, the existing provisions would put the lives of patients at risk if they were treated by non-licensed medical professionals.
As per the proposed amendment, doctors will not have to wait for the consent of patients or their family members, exclusively during natural disasters, road accidents and various plagues.
The proposed amendments also include two additional provisions under Clause 239. Doctors will now be subjected to compensation and jail term only after an investigation finds them guilty. The existing provision grants powers to arrest the doctors prior to any investigation.
The second provision under Clause 239 also includes “jail without bail” for those accused of attacking doctors and health service facilities.
Sub-clause 1 of Clause 240, which allowed the victim’s family to file a case against the medical personnel involved in the death of a patient without the time limit, will also be amended.
The victim’s family will now have to file a case within six months of the incident.
The medical fraternity has had strong reservations over the Criminal Code that came into force on August 17.