A delegation from the Doctors Syndicate met Prosecutor General Hesham Barakat on Saturday and agreed that assaults on doctors would legally be classified as assaults on employees.
They also agreed upon a legal classification for assaults on hospitals that would align such attacks on “assaults on government facilities”, a statement posted by the syndicate said.
During the meeting, a rapporteur from the Liberties Committee, Ahmed Hussein, handed the prosecutor general a list with the names of over 200 doctors who are currently held on preventative detention, calling for their release on humanitarian and medical grounds.
Barakat asked that a memorandum be presented on each of the detained doctors, separately, to detail information on the doctors and their arrests.
Hussein added, “We are currently in the process of drafting these memorandums.”
Assaults on doctors were previously classified as a “quarrel between the patients’ family and the doctor”. But increasing and repeated assaults on doctors and hospitals have left doctors demanding harsher penalties for assailants.
In 2012, the Doctors Syndicate demanded that those who assault doctors be charged with attempted murder. Passing a law to enforce harsher penalties on assailants was one of the three reasons doctors staged a partial strike in 2012, a strike which lasted longer than 80 days.
Barakat “asked to be personally informed of any such incidents in the future,” the statement read.
This meeting comes one week after Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim and representatives of the Doctors Syndicate agreed on a “security activation” plan to protect hospitals and agreed that there would be “permanent communication” between the syndicate and ministry officials.
The security agreement stipulates a framework for reporting incidents of crime against a hospital. The interior ministry also agreed to reinforce police involvement with hospitals’ own administrative security in managing the entry of patients and their visitors into hospitals.
In recent years, there have been several incidents in which doctors in public hospitals were forced to shut down their emergency operations due to attacks.
One recent attack on a hospital took place on 3 January at dawn, leaving three doctors at Imbaba General Hospital injured with cuts and bruises and causing damage to the emergency care department.
In May, doctors from the Beni Suef General Hospital emergency department started a strike after such an attack.
The doctors’ delegation also asked Barakat for the activation of the Syndicate Law, which states that prosecutors’ investigations of any doctor facing a malpractice suit must be held in the presence of a representative from the syndicate. The prosecutor general acknowledged this as a proper right.
Doctors have staged partial strikes on 1 and 8 January demanding reforms within the public healthcare sector.
The syndicate is planning to escalate and is looking to increase its efforts. It announced on Saturday that it will be taking suggestions for additional steps throughout the week.
Rapporteur of the Media Committee of the Doctors Syndicate Hossam Kamal said on Friday that options include but are not limited to: an “administrative strike”, in which doctors would refuse to issue marriage and death certificates, an open-ended strike (rather than a one-day strike) and the collection of a group resignation, which would be handed in at once when the number of resignations collected reaches a “critical number, such as 20,000.”