New Delhi: Work at government hospitals in Delhi remained adversely affected as All India Government Nurses Federation proceeded on an indefinite strike beginning Friday morning. The nurses demanded higher wages and better working conditions.
“We want our wages to be increased as per the 7th Pay Commission and the entry level wages to be increased to Rs. 5,600 from the previous Rs. 4,600,” said Sunil Sharma, Union President, Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital in Mayur Vihar.
The scenario at Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital though wasn’t that adverse as only the permanent staff had called the strike. The contractual nurses were working as per schedule. “The contract based staff are at the hospital working, but if the government doesn’t pay heed to our demands, even the contract staff will be part of the strike from tomorrow,” added Sharma.
“There is still a shortage of staff even though the contract nurses are working. There are no nurses to take samples of blood. The pharmacy is also shut down as we don’t have much staff,” said Dr. Ashish Sharma, a senior doctor at Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital.
Aanchal Rai (18), who had been admitted to the general ward for the past two days said there wasn’t anyone to clean the rooms. “The beds haven’t been changed today. There are patients here who need to be accompanied to the washrooms, but there are no nurses here to take care of them,” said Rai.
“There’s a huge queue at the pharmacy as only one ward boy is giving the medicines. I had to stand for two hours to get the plaster materials. My son is withering in pain as he broke his ankle today,” said Divya Khobre who blamed the authorities for the laxity.
At the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital in Dilshad Garden, the permanent nursing staff were protesting outside the hospital even though there was a queue assembling at the Emergency ward. “We are concerned about the patients too, but the government should also be concerned about us. We have been raising this issue for the past nine months, but the government doesn’t pay heed to our requests,” said Ram Kesh Meena, Union member, GTB Hospital.
“I came to the hospital at 9 am with my mother as she was having breathing problem. But there is no one to look after her here. The few doctors and nurses are busy with the emergency cases,” said Mahinder Kumar who was waiting for her mother to be admitted at the GTB hospital.
Shelli Reji, a nurse at GTB hospital said that the nurses risk their lives by taking care of HIV patients, but no one cares about them. “One day we call a strike and the authorities say they will invoke Essential Services Maintenance Act. Why didn’t they hear our demands when we kept on protesting for months,” said Reji.
While the majority of the permanent nursing staff at Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan Hospital protesting outside the hospital started leaving, Vivek Abhinav, member of the union of nurses said that the indefinite strike would go on till their demands were to be approved. “Tomorrow onwards the contractual staff will also join us in the protest. Then we will see how the hospital is run,” said Abhinav.
Dr. Kiran Ramesh at the casualty ward was however, unfazed by the demands of the nurses. “Let them protest for as long as they want, our job is to take care of patients here, and we will do it till as long as we are here. There is a shortage of staff, but we will manage,” added Ramesh.
This article first appeared in The Times of India, Delhi Edition issue dated 03.09.2016