Delhi's second biggest hospital is being forced to put off surgeries as the surgical staff don't have clean gear to wear.
More than a third of 200 surgeries performed everyday at Safdarjung Hospital have been rescheduled over the last three days. Water shortage at the hospital, which treats 8,000 people each day, has led to the washing piling up, including scrubs — protective garments worn for surgery — and linen.
The worst hit are the operation rooms (OR).
"Clothes used in OR have to be sterilised. Anything that we've sent for washing over the past three days hasn't come back," said a doctor in the gynaecology department, requesting anonymity.
"We are left with no choice but to postpone routine surgeries, doing only emergency cases."
Bulandshahr-resident Kamala Rani (name changed), 52, was scheduled for an arthritis procedure early this week, but was told to come back two weeks later. "I can barely walk, the pain in my right knee is intense," she said.
Doctors say they are giving preference to emergency cases and to people who are from outside Delhi.
Irregular water supply has been plaguing the hospital for two months, but peaked in the last three days. "I got a call from the laundry today saying there were no scrubs for tomorrow. It will impact the surgery schedule," said a doctor at the hospital's sports injury centre.
The hospital blames the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) for the reduced water supply. "We're getting only a portion of the water supply by the NDMC. I have requested them to look into the matter," said Dr NK Mohanty, the hospital medical superintendent.
The civic agency says it hasn't reduced the supply. "The problem is in their pipeline. We met the hospital authorities and told them it's a technical issue," said NDMC spokesperson Anand Tiwari.