Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has courted a controversy over deputing a few nurses from Cama and Albless Hospital to look after his mother-in-law.
Protesting the move, the staff went on a flash strike at the hospital near Azad Maidan on Monday and resumed work at 11am, only after their colleagues were called back from Chavan’s Malabar Hill residence, Varsha.
The staff was also given a verbal assurance from the medical superintendent of Cama Hospital, Dr Rajshri Katke. “I told the nurses that nobody will be sent for duty at a private residence,” said Dr Katke.
Kasturi Kadam, joint secretary of the Maharashtra Government Nurses Federation said, “We have accepted the verbal assurance but we will take to the streets if we are asked to do such duties again because there is no written assurance.”
JJ Group of Hospitals dean Dr TP Lahane, however, said there was nothing illegal about nurses being deputed to the chief minister’s bungalow.
“There was no breach of protocol. There is a rule that says that we can depute staff from the hospital for VIPs such as the governor and chief minister,” said Lahane.
The CM’s office had asked for three nurses to be deputed to Varsha from October 6. The letter issued to the nurses, however, did not mention the nature of the job, said Kadam. They were asked to work in a 12-hour shift though the working time in hospitals is 8 hours, he added.
“The nurses protested because they did not want to go to a private home for an unspecified purpose,” added Kadam.
Kadam said when the first batch of nurses were forced to visit the CM’s ailing mother-in-law, they found that the woman they were asked to attend to only needed help to walk around and do her personal chores.
Chavan was unavailable for comment but a senior official attached to Chavan’s bungalow, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the services were discontinued from Monday.