Safdarjang hospital strike on but patients won’t suffer

Doctors have agreed to attend duties assigned but will boycott lectures till demands are met


Sonal Matharu | June 3, 2010

Putting an end to patients' woes, the striking medical staff at the Safdarjang Hospital and the Vardhman Mahavir Medical College (VMMC) have said that out-patient services will continue uninterrupted from Thursday although they will continue with their silent protest. The Students' Welfare Association (SWA), which is conducting the strike, held meetings with the hospital's director Dr. Jagdish Prasad, principal Dr. V K Sharma, medical superintendent Dr. N K Mohanty and representatives of the Resident Doctors Welfare Association on Wednesday before making the announcement.

“The students will attend the postings in the hospital and will not block the entry to the Out-Patient Department (OPD) but will boycott all lectures. Some of our demands have been met by the hospital authorities and they will give us a written draft tomorrow. The AC, one lift and one water cooler in the college building will be functional within a week and the rest will be repaired in another two weeks. The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) has also agreed to give us the No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the new hostel within a week,” said Bharat Mehta, third-year student at VMMC.

More than 500 students from VMMC have been demanding better working conditions in the hospital and the hostel building, which they say have not been repaired for over three years now.

“We do not have potable water in the college. The six-floor college building’s lifts have not been operational and the lecture rooms have no ventilation. How do you expect students to study in such rooms?,” said Gaurav Chawla, third-year student at VMMC.

The doctors at Safdarjang have been agitating for over two months now. The resident doctors are now also supporting them taking their strength up to 800. They say that they are not provided even with the basic facilities like drinking water and electricity.

Last month, their exams were held in the basement of the college building where over 75 students were packed in one classroom. There was no electricity and four students fainted while writing the exam. The college building is supposed to be centrally air-conditioned, but the AC never works, and there is no ventilation, informed one of the students who did not want to be named.

One of the boys hostels for the medical students, on the other hand, is cramped up with five people in one room. The new hostel building outside the campus is ready but the authorities are not allotting it to the students saying that the NOC from the NDMC has not been obtained.

After two day of protest, Dr. Jagdish Prasad, the director, came to talk to the students. He asked them to call off the strike and gave assurance that the problem would be solved in the next 10 days. He also assumed responsibility of the college affairs and said that he would give everything in written.

Prasad said, “You have any problems, you come to me in future. Whatever is under my power, I’ll do it. You please call off the strike today. I will give you everything in written.”

Meanwhile, Anubhav Saghavan, vice-president, SWA, has earlier said, “We do not know who the head of the college is. Whom do we go to with our problems? The medical superintendent said two days ago that though he sympathises with us, he has no role in the college affairs. Last time we protested we were told that Rs 1.71 crore has been sanctioned for the college for this year and the maintenance work will be done. But nothing has been done yet. We went to the principal and he said he would rusticate us.”

After last evening’s meeting, the director has assured the students that he would arrange for a meeting with the the NDMC chairperson on Friday. Karan Vats, president, SWA, said that harassing the patients is not what they want. He added that last time they protested, the college made the same promises but this time they will not resume lectures till the time all their demands are met.



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