Emergency services at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were hit with 5,000 nurses going on mass casual leave on Friday morning demanding higher pay than recommended by the 7th Pay Commission.
The worst affected were people going in the Emergency department, which treats around 2,000 patients needing immediate treatment and care.
Hospital guards turned away patients from the emergency department, and those who managed to sneak in early have spent hours waiting for a doctor to see them.
Jitendra Jha ,65, from Noida (Uttar Pradesh), who suffers from a liver disease, had been waiting near the Emergency department since 5am. “We have been waiting outside Emergency since early morning. I do not want to take him anywhere else as I trust doctors at AIIMS the most. I will wait a little longer to see if we get lucky,” says his son, Rajiv.
Abhimanyu Prasad brought his paralysed uncle to AIIMS in a CATS ambulance in the morning and had been waiting for treatment since then. “The ambulance drivers wanted to take us to Safdarjung but we insisted on AIIMS. We can’t take him anywhere now, so we have no option but to wait till the staff resumes duty.
The members of Nurses’ Union are demanding higher minimum wages. “We want the entry pay grade for staff nurses to be enhanced to Rs 5,400 from the existing Rs 4,600, and nursing allowance to be increased to Rs 7,800,” said a nurse. “They must also give us risk and night duty allowances.”
AIIMS administration have forwarded their demands to the health ministry, even though there is no official directive on the allowances yet. “Pay Commission doesn’t come under the health ministry; we are doing everything possible to ensure there is a solution at the soonest,” said a senior health ministry official.