Thousands of patients returned without treatment from government-run hospitals across the Capital as the strike called by grade III and IV employees entered its third day on Wednesday.
While patients suffered, the protestors across hospitals burnt effigies of Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss protesting against the imposition of the Essential Services Management Act (ESMA), which prevents them from continuing the strike.
“We will continue the strike until the anomalies in our pays are looked into. State Health Minister Kiran Walia has responded by saying there was nothing in her hands and it was up to the Central ministry to hike salaries. We are yet to hear from the Health Minister Ramadoss,” said V.S. Dahiya, vice president of the Kalawati Hospital workers’ union.
Workers have been on sporadic strikes from more than a year now. The last mass protest was in November 2008.
While the emergencies in all hospitals were functioning as most doctors reported on duty, work was affected, as most kitchens, x-ray services, medical distribution departments, cleaning services remained paralysed.
Workers have decided not to report to work until the health ministry agreed to their demands.
Ajay Sharma who broke his left leg in an accident four months ago was promised operation at Lok Nayak Hospital on Wednesday but doctors postponed his treatment because of the strike.
“I have come from Mandawali with a broken leg in the hope of an operation. After four months of wait, doctors have asked me to wait for another month. I have lost all hope of walking normally,” he cried. Karawal Nagar resident Renu Jha, wife of a rickshaw-puller had also come to G.B. Pant hospital for her liver operation. The doctors refused admission, stating staff crunch.