Nurses at private hospital allege services terminated for demanding basic facilities

New Delhi: A group of nurses working in the COVID-19 ward of the Hakeem Abdul Hameed Centenary Hospital, a private health facility here, went on a mass protest here after they claimed that their employer had continued enlisting their services despite their contracts expiring as early as February and then had suddenly terminated for "demanding basic facilities".

The protesters alleged that the hospital did not have basic facilities for nurses working in the COVID-19 ward. "There is no proper donning and doffing area for female nurses. There is no drinking water," one of the protesters said. She said for every 20 patients in the coronavirus ward, there is only one nurse. The hospital management has not provided "proper PPE kits, masks and gloves" to nursing and sanitation staff, another protester claimed.

However, the officiating Medical Superintendent, Sunil Kohli, said the non-renewal of the contracts is not linked to their demands, adding that only a few of the nurses' demands were genuine.

"The nurses had asked the hospital to give them a COVID-19 allowance but the management denied it," she said, adding "there is no health policy for the staff working in the COVID-19 ward". Kohli said the hospital

paid full salaries to the nurses but the management could not give a COVID-19 allowance as "it does not have means

to do it".

The nurses residing in the hostel of the Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences claimed it does not have drinking water. "Four to five nurses reside in the same room, there is no scope for following physical distancing measures," she claimed.

The 84 nurses, whose services have been terminated, protested on the hospital premises on Monday and also wrote to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi L-G Anil Baijal and CM Arvind Kejriwal, seeking their intervention in the matter. "All of a sudden they have asked us to go. They did not even follow the usual assessment process for renewal of contracts," a nurse said.

Every year, the hospital follows a process wherein nurses fill up an assessment form and nursing in-charges give their remarks. The hospital, which is linked to the Hamdard Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, has now constituted a committee for the assessment process. Kohli said these nurses would have to apply again through this process.

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