AIIMS nurses take 'mass casual leave' demanding better wages
Casualty services remained non-functional, while Operation Theatres functioned for essential surgeries in the country's premiere healthcare institution All India Institute of Medical Sciences' (AIIMS), where nearly 2,000 staff nurses went proceeded on mass casual leave on Friday demanding better wages.
Chaos prevailed and patients visiting AIIMS from across the country were at the receiving end as they were unaware of the nurses' strike. Due to the mass casual leave taken by nurses from Friday, nearly 90 scheduled surgeries had to be postponed.
AIIMS authorities have claimed that they are "doing their best to minimise discomfort to the in-house patients." They added that the strike has majorly affected the patient care. Following the nurses' mass casual leave, "AIIMS has decided to take the step to hold a series of meetings with the nurses' union, which is demanding higher pay scale despite coming under the purview of the Seventh Pay Commission," said an official.
"We have decided to send the fresh demands of the nurses union to the Health Ministry, which in turn will send it to the Finance Ministry for consideration," said Dr Balram Airan, acting Director, AIIMS.
"Our demands are not new. For a year, we have been only assured that our demands for better pay will be looked into, but the Institute has failed to take action on what it promised us. The institute is responsible for the strike on Friday. Also, if our demands are not addressed, we will proceed on an indefinite strike from March 27," said Narendra Sharma, secretary, AIIMS Nurses Union.
"Like the doctors, we too are working long hours in extremely hazardous conditions. We are hurt by the discrimination against us by the government and Institute," said an agitating nurse.
"Our demand is that the entry pay grade for staff nurses should be enhanced to Rs 5,400 from the existing Rs 4,600 and the nursing allowance should be enhanced by Rs 7,800. Besides, risk allowance and night duty allowances should be given to all nurses as it is given to all other government employees," said Harish Kumar Kajla, President, AIIMS Nurses Union. To seek Emergency care, many of the patients had to go to Safdarjung Hospital.
"We have registered nearly 4,000 patients in just four hours (12 pm to 4.30 pm)," said an operator at the Emergency counter, Safdarjung Hospital.
BJP MP GOT VIP TREATMENT while PUBLIC endured
All but one – that of BJP MP Jagdambika Pal – of the pre-scheduled surgeries at the AIIMS in Delhi was put off on Friday. Pal, 66, the Lok Sabha member from Domariyaganj in Uttar Pradesh, was operated upon for a urological problem. "Jagdambikaji underwent the surgery. It was done as he was being treated under VIP category," said an anonymous doctor. On being asked why Pal's surgery was not postponed, he said: "Such cases usually do not get affected.