Forty Kerala doctors who had come to Mumbai at the request of the state government to help the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in the battle against Covid-19 are on their way back home as the civic body has not yet paid their salaries. Fifteen have already left for Kerala while the remaining 25 will be heading back Thursday.
At least four of the 35 nurses from Kerala, who had joined Seven Hills hospital last month, too, have not received their salary from the BMC.
“All 40 doctors who came to Mumbai have not been paid. They were supposed to work for two months. Fifteen of them decided to return home last week due to salary issues,” said a doctor associated with the South Asia chapter of Doctors Without Borders that had facilitated the movement of these professionals to Maharashtra during the lockdown.
The team of 40 doctors and 35 nurses had arrived in Mumbai from Kerala on June 9 after the Maharashtra government made a request to the Kerala government. Their task was to help BMC set up a Covid hospital in the city. The BMC had promised a salary of Rs 2 lakh for specialist doctors, Rs 80,000 for MBBS doctors and Rs 35,000 for nurses, along with travel allowances.
The doctors had over the past few days complained that neither were they being paid nor was the BMC reimbursing them for their travel expenses.
An official from the United Nurses Association (UNA) said all the nurses employed by the Seven Hills Hospital management had received salaries, but the ones posted by BMC in the hospital were yet to be paid.
The doctors have claimed that the BMC had been postponing the payment dates. The BMC initially promised to pay by July 5, then postponed it to July 10 and finally to July 13. “The salaries have not come even today,” said Dr Santosh Kumar Wednesday.
An official from BMC said the salaries will be credited soon in their bank accounts. “The file is on the move,” an official said.
The Maharashtra government reportedly has urged the Kerala government to send more doctors and nurses to the state. In a letter to Kerela Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on June 22, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray wrote, “Our doctors and nurses have been fighting a long-drawn battle against Covid, and whilst we have begun to chase the virus, and chase it out for good, we need to have more members into our medical frontline force to support increased capacity. Apart from ICU trained nurses, we require intensivist’s, anaesthetists, pulmonologists, physicians at large,” the letter said.
A representative from Doctors Without Borders said they had received the letter on July 3 and are making arrangements to send more medical workforce “if anyone is willing to volunteer”. But its members told The Indian Express the medical staff remains unwilling to work in Mumbai. “Only those who want to work on a voluntary basis are willing to go to Maharas
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