Days after the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) suspended three nurses and a Class IV employee and issued showcause notices to 15 other nurses of the Group of Tuberculosis Hospital in Sewri, the hospital’s nursing staff stopped work and protested on Thursday, angering patients.
The nurses also demanded the removal of medical superintendent Dr Lalitkumar Anande. As the nurses agitated, patients complained of harassment by the nursing staff at the BMC-run hospital.
The nurses are simmering with anger since last week when parents of several children admitted to the hospital’s paediatric ward left, complaining against nurses and alleging that they were forcefully discharged.
In response, the nursing staff alleged that patients are allowed to watch television till late night in the ward and family members of patients lounge in the corridors and ward beds for prolonged periods.
Additional municipal commissioner Idzes Kundan paid a surprise visit to the hospital and suspended nurses found fighting with patients. Fifteen others were issued showcause notices.
“We want patients to be happy. TB requires prolonged hospitalisation and can lead to depression among patients. They are given freedom up to certain extent which nurses do not like,” an official at the hospital said.
On Thursday morning, as nurses stopped work and protested, patients were hassled, especially those visiting the out patient department. Vishal Shah, who brought his mother for a TB check-up, said, “Several patients had to wait in the OPD as nurses kept shouting slogans outside the superintendent’s office,” he said. His sister, Vaishali Shah, also suffers from lute-drug resistant TB and is undergoing treatment at the hospital.
Nasreen Shaikh, whose six-year-old daughter has been admitted in the hospital since six months, said, “The nurses do not provide proper food, they do not get the ward cleaned properly. Doctors are the ones who reprimand them. That is why they are protesting.”
Another patient, Savita Pawar, said bedsheets are changed by nurses once in a week. “I have been admitted since six months. Spats between doctors and nurses have forced patients to suffer.”
Another patient’s husband, Farookh Usman, alleged he was thrashed by hospital staffers when he tried to videoshoot the protest by nurses.
The issue escalated by evening. Parents of six paediatric patients reached the BMC headquarters to protest against the nurses.
The protest took a political turn with various parties supporting either the nurses or doctors. Shiv Sena corporator Shraddha Jadhav raised a point of order in the general body meeting on Thursday, alleging that the nurses were being harassed by doctors at the Sewri TB hospital. “The nurses are being harassed by the doctors and being mistreated by them. So, an inquiry should be ordered against the doctors,” said Jadhav.
Mayor Vishwanath Mahadeshwar directed the civic administration to conduct an inquiry to bring out the facts. Congress corporator Ashraf Azmi, however, said, “The patients are suffering because of protesting nurses. We have been told they are ill-treated by nurses. Action must be taken against them.”