Safdarjung docs threaten indefinite strike

Demand better security arrangements and say that the MS turned back on his words


Sonal Matharu | August 27, 2010

Resident doctors at Delhi's Safdarjung hospital have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from September 1 if their demands for permanent security arrangements and basic amenities are not met by the administration.

In a notice on display at the hospital premises, a copy of which is sent to the medical superintendent of the hospital, the health ministry and the prime minister’s office, the doctors say, “Inspite of firm assurances given by the medical superintendent, Dr N K Mohanty, in the meeting chaired by him on 8th August, 2010, regarding permanent security arrangements for the hospital staff and doctors, none of the demands have yet been met."

The resident doctors at the hospital went on strike on August 8 when over 15 people accompanying a patient beat up some doctors and other staff in the emergency block of the hospital after death of a patient.

The medical superintendent of the hospital promised the doctors that ex-servicemen will replace the existing security guards, provided by two private security agencies, to make the security stringent at the hospital. Upon this promise, the doctors called off their strike within a day.

Resident Doctors Association’s president Dr Chandrabhan Jatav told Governance Now, “We had a meeting with the medical superintend on August 21 and he simply turned back on his words. He said that new guards cannot be deployed by September 1. This means he gave us a hypothetical date so that we call off our strike.”

Furious with the apathy shown by the hospital’s administration department, the RDA put out a notice that the doctors will go on an indefinite strike if their demands are not met by the date promised by the medical superintendent earlier.

Meanwhile, the hospital’s public information officer S N Makwana said, “We have released a new tender where we have mentioned that 90 percent guards should be ex-servicemen. Out of this, five to ten percent should be female guards. All the applications received under the tender will be opened on September 17 and selections will be made after that. We have to follow the set procedures and cannot have new security guards on duty by 1st September.”

At present, the hospital has 148 guards and six supervisors each by two security agencies - Prehari Protection Systems and Centre Investigation and Security Services. The contract for these agencies ended this May. New agencies were invited through tender after that but no agency could be selected. Hence, the contract of the existing companies was extended.

Taking a defensive stand, Prehari Protection Systems’ director Pranav Tekchand said, “Ex-servicemen are trained for different purposes. The civilian and paramilitary men are better equipped to guard hospitals. Our security guards are best trained to handle sensitive areas like hospitals. If a mob comes determined to beat doctors, what can one guard do? We have been telling the hospital administration to increase the number of guards.”

However, Jatav added that people walk in and out of the emergency ward and the cameras installed here are of no use. He said that the doctors are firm on their decision to go on strike. 

Medical superintendent of the hospital N K Mohanty was unavailable for comment.



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