Kathmandu, September 22 Closure of OPD services in hospitals across the country today deprived thousands of patients of essential health services. Nepal Medical Association had decided to halt OPD services in all hospitals, medical and dental colleges, nursing homes and clinics nationwide, demanding withdrawal of the September 18 Cabinet decision. Hundreds of patients return home without treatment. “I didn’t know about the closure of hospitals,” said Anupa Dawadi, who was at a hospital for health check-up. “I came to know about it after reading notices pasted on hospital walls,” she added. Sabita Ghimire of Imadol took her child straight to the hospital’s emergency ward after finding out that OPD services were closed. “I couldn’t wait for the protest to end as my child’s health is deteriorating. Therefore I took him to the emergency ward.” The emergency wards in almost all hospitals in the Valley were teeming with patients. “Normally we receive 30 patients at the hospital’s emergency ward, but today there were more than 50 patients,” said Dr Bickey Khadgi at Civil Hospital. The Council of Ministers had decided to formulate an act whereby doctors will have to compensate patients or their kin if found guilty of negligence during the course of treatment. In a directive issued to the Ministry of Health, the Cabinet has asked it to draft a bill to curb negligence on the part of doctors and make them responsible towards patients. NMA had condemned the Cabinet decision and given the government 72-hour ultimatum to withdraw its decision. They have also demanded a provision of jail without bail for violence against medical practitioners and the health centres. NMA said it would continue its protest until further notice. Meanwhile, the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers today said its serious attention was drawn to the agitation launched by doctors.