Launched last month, the Delhi government’s ‘happiness therapy’ initiative, which included dance classes with patients and hospital staff, has already hit a roadblock. At Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) Hospital, where it was launched as a pilot project, nursing staff have backed out of the initiative.
Inspired by a video from hospitals in Brazil that Delhi government officials chanced upon, the therapy entailed a group dance by hospital staff to uplift spirits of patients. It also included music, songs, meditation, yoga and laughter “under proper supervision” for patients admitted in all wards, except the ICU and emergency.
During the launch on January 17, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had grooved to Falguni Pathak’s songs along with nursing staff at the hospital. Since then, though, not a single therapy session has taken place.
While doctors at the hospital had already expressed reservations about dancing, nursing staff also aired concern over the idea. “We are not against the initiative, but for us, the priority is to increase manpower in the hospital. Patient care is of utmost importance and for that, we should have sufficient technicians and basic equipment to treat them,” said Jitendra Kumar, president of the hospital’s nurses union association.
“It happened only when the health minister came to the hospital. No classes have taken place after that day in the ward. We have not received any further communication from the government on the initiative,” said Dr Amita Suneja, head of the gynaecology department.
The medical director, along with Jain and some nursing staff, had started the session in the gynaecology ward. “I am not aware about the development. No one has informed me that classes are not happening,” Dr Sunil Kumar, medical director of GTB Hospital, told The Indian Express.
The government had said the project will be extended to all hospitals under it. “The aim is to bridge the gap between patients and doctors. The initiative is planned in five stages — dance, music, yoga, physiotherapy and meditation. This will also eventually reduce stress among patients who are being treated,” Jain had told The Indian Express.
On Monday, the minister did not respond to calls and messages seeking a comment.
After the inauguration, several doctors across the capital, including the Resident Doctors’ Association of GTB Hospital, had opposed the move.
“Instead of introducing such initiatives, the government should focus on improving the condition of hospitals. The toilets in the wards are in an extremely bad shape. Patients will be happy if these basic facilities are maintained. There are around 700 resident doctors in the hospital and we all oppose such initiatives, which are a mere publicity stunt,” Dr Anand Chopra, president, RDA, GTB Hospital had said.
The Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association, an umbrella body of resident doctors, had also objected to the initiative.