The following report was received from a correspondent of Mazdoor Ekta Committee.
More than 300 resident doctors of North Delhi’s Bara Hindu Rao Hospital (HRH) have gone on strike since November 22, demanding payment of their salaries and allowances.
OPD services remain suspended though the doctors are reported to be working in shifts to maintain emergency services for critical patients.
At the protest dharna organized outside the main gate of the hospital, huge banners were mounted, highlighting the doctors’ demands. The slogan of the protest – “No pay, no work!” – summed up the mood of the striking doctors, who complained that they had not been paid their salaries for the past 2 months and dearness allowance for the past 5 months.
The president of the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) of HRH explained that for the past two years, the resident doctors and nurses and other staff have had to face delays of several months in getting their salaries. The RDA has been forced to go on strike and has even approached the courts, demanding that their salaries be paid on time. However, once again this year they are faced with the same situation.
The doctors have not even been given any written assurance as to when their salaries will be disbursed. Many of them are facing threats from their landlords for not being able to pay house rents on time. Others are unable to pay their EMIs or fees of school-going children. They are facing enormous financial difficulties, as a result of which they have been compelled to go on strike. Many of the striking doctors pointed out that even during the Covid-19 crisis period in 2020, when they worked overtime and risked their lives attending to patients, often without adequate protective gear, they had to face similar delay in getting their salaries.
HRH is the biggest hospital run by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation and serves as one of the major health facilities of North Delhi. Nearly 2,000 patients are estimated to be visiting the OPD daily. Despite this, the doctors and paramedics have regularly had to protest for their salaries.
Resident doctors at the Kasturba Hospital in North Delhi also went on strike on November 23, demanding payment of salaries due to them for the past two months. Resident doctors at the 500-bed Covid-19 facility at the Guru Teg Bahadur (GTB) Hospital in East Delhi, opened during the second wave of the pandemic in March 2021, have also complained to the authorities that they have not been paid their salaries for the past four months.
On the one hand, health care services are being increasingly privatized, with some of the biggest national and international private monopoly corporate houses in the medical field opening up massive hospitals in all the major cities across the country and literally looting patients in dire need of health services. On the other hand, successive governments at the center and in the states have worked to consistently degrade and ruin the public health system. The recurrent non-payment of salaries and dues to the doctors in the municipal and government hospitals, who work tirelessly to provide medical support to thousands of patients every day, often in extremely difficult conditions, is part of the strategy of the ruling class to systematically destroy the public health services, break the morale of the doctors and medical staff working there and justify privatization of health care.