‘We are being treated like a political football by Delhi govt and NDMC’, say the doctors.

 

New Delhi: “I had no money to pay for my brother’s Covid test,” said Dr. Manish Chaudhary, one of the many resident doctors of Hindu Rao Hospital protesting over delayed salaries. These doctors and medical staff have not been paid for the last 4 months. Clueless and uncertain, the doctors and medical staff protested on Friday at Jantar Mantar to raise their concern. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has time and again applauded the efforts of the COVID-warriors yet the situation of these doctors is worrisome.

Several doctors that The Sunday Guardian spoke to emphasized that this delay in salaries is not because of coronavirus but it is an “established norm”. The doctors said that they have to protest every time to get paid.

“There are only 200 resident doctors in this hospital. The majority of the doctors here are non-residents. I don’t see the point of removing this hospital from ‘COVID Hospitals’. I haven’t been paid for the last 4 months. We are asking our parents for money. The hospital is fully-functional. All wards and OPD are functioning. Only 40 percent of the manpower is coming to the protest. The rest of them are still working and taking care of patients,” said Dr. Siddharth, Secretary of Resident Doctors’ Association of Hindu Rao Hospital.

These doctors and staff also said that this situation is caused due to the failure in policy-making and lack of sensitivity on the part of both the Delhi government and North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

“The Delhi government is making vague statements. We don’t want to get into this politics. We are just demanding what we deserve. This is bad policymaking. This is a clear case of lack of foresight and sensitivity. Nobody, neither Delhi Government nor MCD saw this coming. Those who cannot pay rent will not be able to stay in Delhi and work. The public has forgotten us and our work. The Senior doctors are also suffering,” Dr. Siddharth said. These doctors have two demands—the authorities should pay them their 4-month salary dues and a written promise that their salaries will be regularised.

Jai Prakash, Mayor of North Delhi Municipal Corporation told The Sunday Guardian that the Delhi government is not releasing funds to tarnish the image of BJP at the MCD level.

“We have released their salaries up to July. Only the two-month salary is left. We implement a permanent solution to this problem. We are already working on this. This will be implemented for all the 55,000 employees and 22,000 pensioners. It will be regularised for all of them. The Delhi government has blocked our funds. Otherwise, there would have been no issues. They are intentionally doing this. They know this will tarnish the image of MCD,” Prakash said. The Sunday Guardian tried to reach out to AAP leader Raghav Chadha regarding these allegations but received no response till the time the story reached the press.

“We are serving the people. AAP has a habit of picking fights. They came into power in 2015. They fought with centre for five years. Now they can’t with the centre so they are fighting with us. In the last 15 days, we issued Rs. 180 crore. We released Rs. 74 crores for EPF, Rs. 51 crore for pension and the day before yesterday we released Rs. 30 crores for RDA and nurses. I have given a one-month salary to the doctors of Hindu Rao Hospital, Kasturba Hospital, and RBTB Hospital,” the Mayor said.

“I want to request everyone to be patient. Whatever money comes to us, it goes for salaries. We need Rs. 350 crore every month for salary. This is a very big problem. Rs. 15 crore goes for the salary of doctors. But I have 30,000 safai Karmcharis. They need to be paid too. Otherwise, they will also go for a strike. Who will the roads then? There 8000 teachers, they will also go on a strike. We are working really hard to manage all this. Out of Rs. 1600 crore spent to date, Rs. 900 crore is from MCD’s collected revenue,” he added.

This is not the problem of only Hindu Rao Hospital. Doctors and medical staff of Kasturba Hospital, RBTB Hospital, and other hospitals of NDMC have a similar story to tell.

Dr. Manish Chaudhary, another resident doctor said: “Delhi is an expensive place. I am working here for the last 15 months. We cannot survive like this. I had to borrow money from friends to take care of my COVID positive brother. Everyone is giving assurance but there is no guarantee. We want a permanent solution. We are like a political football between the Delhi Government and corporation.” From Monday, senior doctors of the hospital will also be taking part in this protest. As the hospital is now a non-COVID hospital, the patients might face inconvenience due to this protest. However, the doctors maintained that the patients are a priority and their health and needs will not be hampered.

“I am working here for the last two years. The salary is never on time here. I came here from Chattisgarh and now I am regretting. Doctors, interns, and all of those who came here from different parts of the country need to survive on their own. Every time we have to protest to get our salary this is extremely disheartening for us. Nobody is supporting us. Nobody cares about us and we are covid warriors. I am even scared to go home as I might infect my family members,” said Dr. Abhishek Mahodia, a resident at Hindu Rao Hospital.