New Delhi: Taking strict action against 20,000 striking nurses in the national capital, as hospitals struggled to cope with soaring dengue and chikungunya cases, the Delhi Government on Saturday said it was taking down the names of nurses absent from duty, and FIRs would be lodged against those who failed to report back to work.
In further action indicating the government would not bend, the Delhi government has asked the Medical Superintendants of all Delhi government hospitals to hold walk-in interviews for engaging new nurses on daily wages with effect from September 5.
“Action will be taken against them under Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA), which involves arrest and detention with the likely consequence of termination of services,” said a statement from the government.
Delhi’s Health Department has issued a public notice asking striking staff to resume duties immediately, informing all concerned that continued absence from work would invite penal prosecution, including arrest and detention with service related consequences.
Earlier, the All India Government Nurses Federation (AIGNF), under whose banner the strike is being organised to demand higher salary and allowances, had alleged that the striking nurses were being threatened with termination of jobs and asked to vacate their government quarters within two days if they don’t return to work immediately.
Delhi Chief Secretary K.K. Sharma took stock of the situation in a few government hospitals amid continued inflow of patients with suspected chikungunya and dengue, which was being managed by interns and student nurses.
“Medical services in the fever clinics and the OPDs are being managed only with contractual nursing staff. However, patient care in the wards is affected. In respect of operations, while emergency surgeries are being carried out with the aid of interns and student nurses, scheduled surgeries had to postponed,” said the statement.
Sharma was informed that hospitals are short of nursing staff and the major hospitals are having only one third of the strength.
Earlier, the nursing federation said they were trying to approach senior Health Ministry officials, including Secretary C.K. Mishra, for talks, but had received no confirmation of a meeting.
“Though we want to meet the senior officials and resolve the problem, we have been asked to meet only the nursing advisor repeatedly. The Health Secretary is not confirming our request to meet him over our demands,” Liladhar Manchandani, spokesperson AIGNF, told
Manchandani said that a delegation of 16-17 nurses, from various government hospitals of Delhi, were invited for talks by the Health Ministry but none of the officials met the delegation.
Over 20,000 nurses in over 40 central and state government hospitals in Delhi went on an indefinite agitation on Friday, even as the government invoked the ESMA against them.
The pan-India nurses’ agitation has affected hospital services badly.
According to the All India Government Nurses Federation (AIGNF), the core demands include that the entry pay grade for staff nurses be enhanced to Rs 5,400 from the existing Rs 4,600 and nursing allowance be raised to Rs 7,800.
They are also demanding risk and night duty allowances for all nurses.
On Friday, over 80 nurses of Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital were detained by Delhi Police for going ahead with the strike.