After mass casual leave, senior doctors of North Corp hospitals to go on indefinite strike

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New Delhi, Oct 26 (PTI) Patients of North Corporation-run hospitals faced hardship as its senior doctors went on a day-long casual leave en masse on Monday over pending salaries and decided to go on an indefinite strike from October 27.

Maruti Sinha, general secretary of the Municipal Corporation Doctors' Association (MCDA), said, 'Our demands, which include release of pending salaries for the last three months, have not been met, so we are going on an indefinite strike from Tuesday.' The MCDA, an association of senior permanent doctors of civic hospitals, was established in 1974, and has about 1,200 members. It also includes doctors from hospitals run by the other two -- east and south -- municipal corporations.

'We have about 700 doctors from the North Corporation hospitals who are part of the MCDA. We all went on mass casual leave in protest. And, even though our conscience doesn't allow, our doctors did not attend to patients even in emergency wards,' Sinha said.

Authorities may have taken services of contractual doctors, she added.

Another senior doctor said many patients were told to go to other hospitals, and the OPD was closed.

Senior doctors of North Corporation hospitals in the evening also held a candlelight vigil at Jantar Mantar to press for their demands.

'We raised slogans like, 'we are not Corona warriors, but corona beggers now',' said Sinha, who led the vigil.

Some of the members of the Resident Doctors' Association (RDA) of Hindu Rao Hospital also attended the vigil.

'Our RDA has decided that we will hold a 24-hour relay hunger strike. So, this morning, the five doctors who had gone on hunger strike were relieved by another five doctors of Hindu Rao Hospital,' a senior official of the RDA said.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Monday demanded that the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) immediately pay the doctors of Hindu Rao Hospital their pending wages, while terming non-payment of salaries for the last three months an 'unfortunate situation' and a 'new low in governance'.

'The IMA takes serious exception to the unfortunate situation in the Hindu Rao Hospital which is under the management of the Delhi Municipal Corporation. It sends a wrong message to the profession and the nation,' the doctors' body, which represents around 3.5 lakh medicos across the country, alleged in a statement.

'It demoralises the entire doctor community. If their services are so dispensable during a (COVID-19) pandemic, something is certainly rotten in the way we are governed. It is a new low in governance,' it said.

The crisis over pending salaries of both resident doctors and senior doctors deepened on Monday as the mayors of three corporations staged a sit-in outside the CM House for over eight hours, seeking a meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the issue of funds in crores, which they alleged was due to the civic bodies.

Later around 8 pm, Delhi minister Satyendar Jain met them, following which they called off their sit-in.

North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash in a statement claimed Jain has 'assured that all the dues of all the three municipal corporations from Delhi government would be cleared in 10 days'.Meanwhile, the North Delhi mayor went Hindu Rao Hospital and met the doctors who are protesting.

RDA president Abhimanyu Sardana said, the 'mayor seemed to be a little confident about releasing the due salaries, and reaching a workable solution tomorrow'.

Earlier in the day, FORDA, the apex bodies of all RDAs in Delhi, issued a statement, saying, if the demands of protesting doctors of Hindu Rao Hospital were not met, then 'two hours of symbolic pen down protest will be held in non-COVID areas on Tuesday' in various hospitals.

Doctors at RML Hospital Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital will be observing this symbolic protest, officials said.

Safdarjung resident doctors will hold a black ribbon symbolic protest tomorrow over non-payment of salary to doctors of these hospitals, Safdarjung Hospital's RDA said.

Several resident doctors of LNJP Hospital on Monday worked sporting black arm bands to show solidarity with protesting medics.

The MCDA on Saturday had issued a statement and threatened that its members from NDMC hospitals would go on a mass casual leave if their pending salaries of last three months, was not released.

Recently, it had also issued a statement expressing solidarity with their agitating colleagues - resident doctors - of Hindu Rao Hospital and Kasturba Hospital, both under the NDMC, who are also protesting over their pending salaries.

The MCDA had recently had also threatened to go on an indefinite strike from October 19, but it had later decided to defer the strike in 'public interest'.

The association after holding an emergency General Body Meeting on Saturday had 'unanimously decided to protest against non-payment of our salaries for the past three months'.

Resident doctors of Hindu Rao Hospital on Sunday took their protest to the streets as they demonstrated at famous Connaught Place and later burnt an effigy of Ravana on the premises of the facility to draw attention to their plight. PTI KND PLB AAR