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‘Banana Republic’: IMA on Non-Payment of Hindu Rao Docs Salaries 

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“The issue of non-payment of doctors salaries in Hindu Rao hospital is a case of systemic failure,” reads the Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) scathing response to the current row in Hindi Rao over non-payment of employees.

On Monday, 26 October, the IMA demanded the initiation of proceedings for contempt of a Delhi High Court order against the administration of corporation run-Hindu Rao Hospital.

What led to such a strong response from IMA?

Here’s What Happened

Since Friday, 23 October, resident doctors from Hindu Rao hospital went on an indefinite hunger strike to protest the non-payment of salaries.

North Delhi Municipal Corporation-run Hindu Rao is Delhi’s largest municipal hospital with 900 beds. It’s currently a COVID-19 hospital. However, according to NDTV, on October 13, Hindu Rao was removed from the list of the designated COVID-19 hospitals.

Dr Abhimanyu Sardana, president of the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA), North Delhi Municipal Corporation Medical College and Hindu Rao Hospital said that, “Five doctors are observing a hunger strike at the main gate of the hospital. The agitation will continue until our demands are met and salaries are not cleared," reported The New Indian Express.

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Neel Chakra Sahu, one of the five doctors sitting on the hunger strike, added that "Verbal assurances won’t feed us, we need concrete actions. We have no other option but to do this."

Here’s Why: ‘Docs Have Been Unpaid for 4 Months’

Doctors have reportedly not been paid their salaries in over four months, and on 10 October, announced that they would stop attending to patients, including those with COVID-19, reported News18.

Being un-paid for months has disrupted their daily routine and made basic hospital duties difficult. The doctors allege apathy and negligence by the government.

IMA chief Dr Rajan Sharma, while speaking to IANS, asked whether doctors should turn into Naxalites to claim their right to be paid.

“It’s a shame that at a time when the pandemic is raging, the doctors are forced to hit the streets, hold placards at places like Jantar Mantar and Connaught Place to highlight their plight.”
Dr Rajan Sharma

‘Initiate Contempt Proceedings’ Says IMA

Even the Supreme Court had intervened saying that the country could not afford to have "dissatisfied soldiers in the war against the pandemic,” and the administration must pay them.

Still, the doctors have remained unpaid. The IMA letter addresses the ignoring of the court’s writ and adds,

“The Supreme Court of India had specifically directed the salaries of doctors and healthcare workers should be paid in time. It seems that the writ of the Highest Court of the land does not bind these officials who administer these hospitals. IMA and the entire medical profession trust that there is adequate reason for the Court to initiate suo moto contempt proceedings against the administration of Hindu Rao hospital.”
IMA letter
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‘Politicising the Matter’

The RDA has been sending letters and reminders to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the issues faced by the COVID-19 frontline warriors to no avail. Sardana added, “Don't ignore the basic needs and rights of doctors.”

Dr Rajan Sharma said the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi government are politicising the matter rather than approaching the end solution.

"MCD claims that the Delhi government has blocked their funds while Delhi government claims that the Centre is not releasing the state's taxes. They are just passing the buck but where would it stop? Someone has to step out and take the responsibility rather than turning the grievances of the doctors into a merry-go-round," he added.

According to The New Indian Express, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, on 10 October, added that “Hindu Rao Hospital is run by the municipal corporation and doctors and staff have given notice for a strike. We have directed to shift COVID patients in the hospital to Delhi government hospital. I want to request the MCD to disburse salaries as soon as possible, and if the North MCD cannot pay the salaries, they can place these hospitals under us. We will run these hospitals better and release the salaries”

Jai Prakash, the mayor of the BJP-ruled North MCD countered, saying that, “The Delhi government wants to financially cripple the corporation. The government has not given Rs 425.06 crore as Basic Tax Assignment, Rs 57.18 crore under the health head, Rs 271.80 crore for sanitation and Rs 201.80 crore under the education head for the year 2020-21.”

Dr Sharma stated that the authorities must rise above politics and take charge of the situation. He said that the Delhi government should take over healthcare from the municipal corporations, reported IANS.

“Health is always a state subject, but here it is in the ambit of the municipal corporations. When it is evident that they (MCD) are unable to manage it, then it should be handed over to the government.”
Dr Rajan Sharma

‘Demoralizes Docs in the Middle of a Pandemic’

“It demoralises the entire doctor community. If their services are so dispensable during a pandemic, something is certainly rotten in the way we are goverened.” 
IMA 

So far, it seems there is no end in sight to the row with the strike continuing and no response from the administration. Several doctors from other hospitals have taken to social media to show support for frontline, essential healthcare workers.

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Topics:  Doctors strike   COVID-19 

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