Doctors, nurses and other staff of at least four municipal hospitals and dispensaries in North and East Delhi went on mass casual leave on Friday over delay in disbursement of salaries, affecting patient care.
At Hindurao hospital under the North municipal corporation, the hospital emergency on Friday morning had only a single doctor with guards stopping patients at the gate and directing them to other hospitals. Ajeez Akhtar (23), who had injured his leg, was asked by guards to go to Lok Nayak hospital or AIIMS. Fahad, who brought his four-month-old son to the hospital, said the entrance to the OPD building was locked. “The nearby dispensary too did not have a doctor. We do not even have our own vehicle. I will take him to a private clinic now. We have spent four hours trying to find a doctor,” he said.
Sources said several patients, who were stable but would have been kept at the hospital for a few more days for observation, were hastily discharged.
“All elective surgeries have been put on hold and some senior consultants have been roped in to see admitted patients. We hope doctors will return to work on Saturday because this is endangering the lives of patients,” a senior health official said.
At Kasturba Gandhi hospital, a dedicated mother-and-child hospital, several women waited in the OPD with no information about the strike. Ruksana, who is four months pregnant, said she came to the hospital after discomfort and bleeding. “Nobody told me there is a strike and I have been waiting for four-five hours. My husband has gone to hail an auto-rickshaw, so we can go to another hospital,” she said.
Striking doctors marched from Hindurao hospital to the Lt-Governor’s residence and said they will observe a token strike on Saturday from 9 am to 12 pm. “About 500 doctors and over 1,000 nurses from the municipal corporations’ dispensaries and polyclinics met the Lt-Governor. But we got no assurance from him too,” Dr R R Gautam, president of the municipal doctors’ association, said.