Hundreds of patients had to face a harrowing time on Friday when emergency services were completely shut down after 5,000 agitating nurses at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) went on mass casual leave. Nearly 90 surgeries were postponed.
Several patients were forced to visit the nearby Safdarjung and other hospitals in wake of the nurses' strike, even as the AIIMS authorities likened the protest to blackmailing and arm-twisting of administration at the cost of poor patients.
The nurses' union at the premier hospital have been demanding higher pay than that recommended by the Seventh Central Pay Commission.
A senior AIIMS faculty member told Mail Today, "This mass casual leave has badly hit the emergency services and the functioning of the operation theatres of the institute apart from other patient services."
The AIIMS Nurses' Union threatened to go on an indefinite strike from March 27 if their demands for revision of their pay scales and a hike in allowances are not met.
"We are protesting against the retrograde recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. Our demand is that the entry pay grade for staff nurses should be enhanced to `5,400 from the existing `4,600 and the nursing allowance should be enhanced by `7,800. Apart from that, 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 of AIIMS Nurses' Union.
"We deal with the deadly infections daily but we are not provided enough risk allowance. If the demands are not met, we will go on an indefinite strike from March 27," Kajla added.
Reacting to the nurses' union mass causal leave at AIIMS, Dr Balram Airan, acting director, AIIMS said: "AIIMS administration said they have forwarded the demands of the nurses to the Health Ministry and requested it to convene a meeting with the Ministry of Finance to resolve the matter.
The AIIMS administration has already revised the pay scales for all its employees including the nurses as per the recommendations of the 7th CPC."