The AIIMS nurses’ union called off their protest after a late-night meeting with the administration. Subhashish Panda, Deputy Dean (Admin), told The Indian Express: “The strike wascalled off and nurses joined duty from Tuesday night. Regarding their demands, they had to first follow the court order. Secondly, we have already discussed reasonable demands with them, which can be resolved at the institute’s level. We will hold more discussions. The larger demands, which have huge financial implications, will be discussed at the ministry level.”
After the meeting, AIIMS director Randeep Guleria thanked the nurses for calling off their strike and coming back to work: “from AIIMS’ side, we assure you that we will do what we can to fulfil your demands. We will have regular dialogues. The Ministry will also continue to have a regular dialogue with the nurses’ union and they will try to resolve the issues in the next few days.”
Earlier in the day when the strike was on, the Emergency unit saw no new admissions, with paramedic staff saying around 20 ambulances either returned or were referred to other hospitals late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. Raja Ram (63), who travelled from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur Monday evening, said he couldn’t get admitted to the hospital’s emergency ward and was forced to spend the night at a nearby shelter home. “I got a pacemaker in my heart 12 years ago and was told it’ll last 10 years. I’ve had pain for five days; perhaps there’s an issue with the battery,” he said. Since the hospital is only seeing patients who have an online registration, Ram made an online reservation for the OPD. He said he would stay at the shelter home till doctors tell him what to do next. Manish Choudhury (21) said his sister-in-law had pregnancy-related complications after giving birth and was brought to AIIMS from Meerut on November 11. Though she has been admitted, her family worried about the impact a delayed operation might have on her health. He said, “I am sure the nurses have valid reasons; they would not strike otherwise… but they should not ignore patients.”
Avesh Ansari (30), a paramedic staff, said doctors took in severe cases. “However, this meant additional responsibilities for paramedic staff and doctors. Especially because of the Covid situation.” He added that there are many accident cases at night because of the fog. In another part of the hospital, around 5,000 nurses protested to resolve a number of pending issues and said they weren’t to blame for disrupted services. Mansingh (35), a nurse, said, “We had written a to the administration in November stating we would go on strike if our demands were not heard… Yes, patients are suffering, but not because of us. It’s because of the administration.” He added that nurses are not demanding a hike but rather an assurance that they would be given the amount stated in the 6th Central Pay Commission. Manoj Kumar Meena (28), a nurse who has been working in AIIMS for four years, said, “Our salary was fixed at Rs 18,460 per month but we receive Rs 17,140 monthly… we are fighting for the removal of gender reservation. As 80% of vacancies are reserved for women, many qualified men are without a job.”
After AIIMS approached the Delhi High Court Tuesday, the court issued an order restraining the nurses from going on strike. The administration also issued a letter stating there should be no disruption or cessation of AIIMS of nursing function, nor such an action be aided or abetted.
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