New Delhi: Nurses of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences or AIIMS in Delhi have gone on relay hunger strike over inaction on their demands by the hospital administration.
The protesting nurses have also alleged that there were no separate treatment facilities for the staff, and they were given dates for surgeries for years later. They said if they choose to opt for treatment outside hospital, they do not get reimbursed, as cashless facility cannot be availed at other hospitals.
A nursing staff who requested anonymity told Newsclick that her daughter needed a minor surgery for a throat-related ailment but was given a date in 2023. “The present condition has forced me to seek treatment in the private sector. The staff of other hospitals can get treatment in CGHS-empanelled institutions. Why is this injustice being meted out to us? The hospital administration deducts Rs 650 per month for EHS- related services whereas the services are pathetic," she said.
Fameer CK, the secretary of the AIIMS Nurses Union, told Newsclick that the current provision of availing treatment at the hospital deprives many family members of the staff who are stationed in the remotest parts of the country. “My family is based in Kerala. If my family wants to seek treatment, they need to come to Delhi. I am not this rich that I can afford their flight tickets every time any of my family member needs treatment here."
He also alleged that the unpleasant working and living conditions had forced half of the newly recruited nursing staff to quit their jobs, adding that the living quarters of the staff were in a dilapidated condition. “We currently need 1,000 quarters to accommodate the staff. We get these quarters only after 15 years of service. But we are meted with this treatment,” he added.
The deteriorating condition of the premier institute was also highlighted in the eighty seventh report of standing committee of Parliament on Health and Family Welfare which noted that the institute was reeling under staff deficit and needed immediate resolution regarding pending vacancies.
The report stated, "The Committee observes that the essential pre-requisite for quality health care services is the availability of adequate manpower/specialists and other healthcare professionals. A cursory reading of the vacancy position vis-a-vis the sanctioned strength reveals that there is more to it than meets the eye. What confounds this Committee is the issue that in spite of providing ample budgetary support, in-position strength in respect of faculty is 594 against sanctioned strength of 826, that of non-faculty is 201 against sanctioned strength of 347 and similar position exists in the case of Group ‘B’ and ‘C’ staff and Group ‘A’ (non-faculty) and Group ‘B’ staff in respect of nurses. Similar is the position in respect of Junior and Senior Residents. Moreover, the Committee has been informed of creation of 2235 non-faculty posts and further projected 905 non-faculty posts for creation."
The parliamentary panel further noted that: "It is more than evident that on the one hand, the Institute has revealed grand plans for expansion but on the other, it has not been able to recruit even the sanctioned strength. The Committee, therefore, exhorts the Institute to streamline its recruitment policy so as to ensure that before approaching the Government for creation of posts, the Institute should at least ensure that the sanctioned posts are filled up within a targeted timeline."