Banha Hospital strikes, Matareya Hospital resumes services after intimidation of doctors

Matareya Hospital resumed services on Friday after being closed for a week in response to police intimidation, while doctors at Banha Hospital have been on a partial strike since Saturday over the assault of three doctors.

In late January, policemen arrested and threatened doctors at Matareya Hospital in northeast Cairo after they reportedly refused to falsify medical reports in their favor. In response, the hospital closed for a week and relocated its services to nearby facilities.

The gynecology and obstetrics department at Banha Hospital, in the Nile Delta governorate of Qalyubia, launched an open-ended partial strike on Saturday, after an individual claiming to be a police officer brandished a weapon and threatened doctors, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm and Veto news portals reported.

This is the second assault at Banha Hospital, according to Veto news, who recounted an incident in November 2015, when a low-ranking policeman demanded better care for a patient at gunpoint. The case was referred to the prosecution for investigation.

Although Banha Hospital is adamant in its quest to protect the rights of doctors and patients, they are not turning away any patients, Doctor Mohamed Abdel Salam told the Sada al-Balad news portal on Sunday. The manager of the hospital added that they treated around 700 patients on Sunday, including around 50 patients in the gynecology and obstetrics unit.

The individual involved in assaulting the three doctors at the obstetrics department of Banha hospital on Saturday was a family member of one of the patients, not a police officer, according to the state-owned Middle East News Agency, who added that he was arrested and is facing investigation. However, the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper reported that prosecutors released the man, who they asserted is a car salesman, on bail of LE200 on Sunday. The pistol he reportedly waved around wasn’t a real firearm, the newspaper reported, adding that he is facing charges for impersonating a police officer.

The Doctors Syndicate is scheduled to convene for a general assembly session on February 12, in which they will determine whether or not to embark on a nationwide strike against acts of police intimidation and assaults on doctors.

In a televised interview with the privately owned CBC satellite channel on Sunday, Mona Mina, secretary general of the Doctors Syndicate said doctors and hospitals have been subjected to a number of assaults by patients and police forces in the last few years. She said such violations often require “emergency closures” in order to safeguard the wellbeing of hospital staff and patients.

Doctors called off their strike at Matareya Hospital on Friday, despite the ongoing lawsuit filed by the syndicate against six low-ranking policemen, Mina added.

The Doctors Syndicate has received significant support from other professional syndicates, who have expressed their solidarity with physicians in their struggle against police intimidation, including the journalists, engineers and lawyers syndicates. A statement of solidarity with the Doctors Syndicate was signed by 14 political groups, independent trade unions, and public personalities last week. 


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