New Delhi: Even as 23 COVID-19 patients were shifted out or discharged from Hindu Rao Hospital (HRH) to LNJP Hospital on Saturday after HRH doctors decided to withdraw from COVID duties from Sunday onwards to protest non-payment of salary dues, the North MCD Mayor flayed the Kejriwal government and also cautioned agitating doctors of action under the law.
The officials told IANS that while 11 patients were transferred to the state-run Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) from North MCD-run HRH, two were sent to Aruna Asaf Ali Government Hospital. Ten patients were discharged as per the COVID management guidelines.
The Delhi government’s move to shift out the patients was announced by Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain earlier in the day, who had also slammed the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (North MCD) for its “failure” to disburse salaries to the agitating doctors for four months.
“The MCD should immediately pay the salaries of doctors who have made huge sacrifices during the coronavirus pandemic,” Jain had said.
The resident doctors of North MCD-run HRH had threatened to stop COVID services from 9 am on Sunday if they did not get salaries due for four months.
However, responding to Jain’s statement, North MCD Mayor Jai Prakash lambasted the Arvind Kejriwal government and accused it of “playing politics” on the sensitive issue while “keeping the public in the dark”.
Prakash claimed that in June, after the Hindu Rao Hospital was converted into a dedicated Covid facility, the Delhi government had given in writing that all the expenditure borne by the hospital, including staff salaries, would be borne by the state government. “But what the Kejriwal government is doing now is play politics on a sensitive issue of Covid patients’ treatment,” he alleged.
“The Delhi government has to pay the corporation Rs 2,000 crore as its share of collected taxes. However, only Rs 400 crore have been released by the government,” he claimed.
“They (Delhi government) could not even manage the affairs at the LNJP till Union Home Minister Amit Shah personally intervened. It is very unfortunate that Jain is giving irresponsible statements and hiding the fact from the public. It is just an attempt to tarnish the image of the corporation and destroy our credibility in the public’s eye,” Prakash remarked.
IANS tried to reach out to the Hindu Rao Hospital Medical Superintendent for comments on the matter, but calls and messages to the official went unanswered.
On the doctors’ protest, the Mayor meanwhile said that they were “behaving irresponsibly and maligning the credibility of the corporation”, cautioning that they could face action under the Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Diseases Act for striking work.
“As many as 55,000 workers are employed in North MCD, whose monthly compensation comes to around Rs 350 crore. Due to the nationwide lockdown, we did not get any taxes or revenue for four months. We are facing a tough time and have to now prioritise things to compensate everyone. For us, everyone is important. What if the sanitation workers stop the cleaning works if they are not paid? What if dengue-malaria workers go on strike in the absence of salaries? How will the pensioners survive without their pensions?” Prakash said.
“It is irresponsible on their (doctors) part to not do their duties in the face of a national emergency. The Epidemic Diseases Act is enforced in the country and they (doctors) cannot leave their duties and expect salaries. We have already cleared their dues till June and asked for some more time to clear the remaining dues. However, what they are doing is maligning the credibility of the hospital as such actions (discontinuation of services) have far-reaching consequences. They can be prosecuted under the Disaster Management Act and Epidemic Diseases Act as well,” he warned.
“However, we are trying our best to disburse their salaries. I have personally met them and requested to wait for a few more days till we received the funds blocked by the Delhi government,” he added.