After sanitation workers, the medical staff working at municipal corporations-run hospitals in the city may stop work to protest non-payment of salaries for two months.
Thousands of patients will have to be turned away without treatment on a daily basis if the workforce chooses to go on strike en masse, as the five prominent hospitals run by the civic agencies — four in north Delhi and one in east Delhi, have close to 4,000 workers, including doctors, nurses and paramedics.
The busiest of its hospitals, Hindu Rao in north Delhi, alone caters to close to 4,000-5,000 outpatient department (OPD) patients each day, with a staff strength of 2,000.
“We are trying to release salaries in phases as soon as we get funds from the headquarters. We paid the nurses today but our doctors and contractual employees have yet not been paid salaries for November and December. It is difficult to expect them to keep working under the given circumstances,” said a senior doctor at Hindu Rao, requesting anonymity.
“If these people choose to stop work, our hospital will literally collapse. We might make use of contractual employees but that will be just enough to keep the emergency running and attend to those in-patients who are critical enough to not be discharged.”
In almost all hospitals, the doctors have not been paid their last two months salary.
“Our doctors have begun silent protest in batches. They attend to patients and then sit on dharna. We can’t hold them from stopping work for long. Our OPD footfall has dropped by 30%, out of the 2,000 patients we get in a day,” said an administrative official from Swami Dayanand Hospital in east Delhi.
Kasturba Hospital, which caters to women and children, under the north civic agency is also facing the heat.
“Our nurses have been paid November salary, but the doctors are yet to be paid. We have outsourced our sanitation work, which is some relief as we can use the services and also of those who are on contract, including doctors. It will keep us going for some time but in the long run if the situation doesn’t improve, it will be very inconvenient for the patients, especially since we deal with women and children,” said an official, requesting anonymity.