From the Viewsroom

Don’t deny medical staff their pay

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on November 03, 2020

In fact, healthcare workers must be paid well in these Covid times

It is a sad commentary of the times, when doctors, nurses and other healthcare givers like ASHA workers are forced to strike work to get their salaries, unpaid for many months. Over the last several months, protests have been witnessed in different parts of the country, the most recent being in Delhi, when doctors from one hospital went on a hunger strike. A particularly distressing image, shared by many senior doctors, was of a young colleague on hunger strike being attended to by others, as his blood glucose level had dropped.

While this situation may have been diffused for now, following the intervention of the administration, it appears that nurses from the same hospital are now on strike again, for salaries that remain unpaid over many months.

The very fact that doctors, nurses and others in the healthcare fraternity should go unpaid is shameful. But making a bad situation worse is that it comes amidst a pandemic, when the medical fraternity is under extraordinary pressure. Many of them work long hours, wear protective gear that leaves scars and cuts on their skin and this, in the face of the risk they face of getting infected themselves.

Older doctors recount how they take a preventive medicine and head into work to treat patients infected by the novel coronavirus. The fear of getting infected or reinfected, playing on their minds. Young doctors and nurses fear carrying the virus back home to their families, even as their families worry about the risk these medical professionals face. Healthcare’s foot-soldiers who visit homes to check people’s body-temperature, blood oxygen levels, etc., also face immense risk of infection.

But they show up nevertheless, armed with a mask and sanitiser. Healthcare givers need to be compensated, handsomely and protected in these challenging times. To have money to rebuild government buildings or statues, and not have funds to pay healthcare workers? Now that is an insensitive excuse that few will buy.

Published on November 03, 2020

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