Asked if critical patients will continue to stay at Hindu Rao Hospital, he said, "Yes, four patients are critical, and they won't be moved out".
Delhi government on Saturday ordered shifting of COVID-19 patients from North Corporation-run Hindu Rao Hospital to its own facilities, with Health Minister Satyendar Jain hitting out at the BJP-led civic body, saying it should “hand over” municipal hospitals to the AAP dispensation if they cannot run them.
North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash shot back, claiming crores of fund are due to the North Delhi Municipal Corporation from the Delhi government, which they are “not paying to handicap us”.
The move to shift patients comes days after the resident doctors of the Hindu Rao hospital went on a “symbolic indefinite strike” over their due salaries for the last three months.
Hindu Rao is the largest municipal hospital in Delhi with 900 beds, and is currently a dedicated COVID-19 facility. Many of its healthcare workers had contracted the infection earlier.
Interacting with reporters, Jain said as of now, 20 patients are at the Hindu Rao Hospital.
“Today, we have ordered to shift all COVID-19 patients from Hindu Rao Hospital to our own facilities. They have the choice to be shifted to LNJP Hospital or any other government hospital nearby their homes,” he said.
Later, Jain also tweeted: “North MCD has not paid salries of Hindu Rao Hospital docs for months. Docs r going on strike from tomo. Therefore, all covid-19 patients in this hospi r being shifted to Del Govt Hospitals. MCD shud immediately pay salries of Docs. Docs hv made huge sacrifices during corona (sic)”.
Hindu Rao falls under the jurisdiction of the NDMC. Doctors on Thursday had threatened to withdraw work from Sunday if their demands were not met.
“BJP is doing politics over the issue, they (NDMC) earn through several taxes, and if they can’t run their hospitals, then they should hand them over to the Delhi government,” Jain said.
He said doctors of Kasturba Hospital are also raising salary issues and the NDMC should look into it.
Abhimanyu Sardana, president of the Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) of the Hindu Rao Hospital, said, “Now, they are taking away the patients too. Do authorities want us to sit at home with no salary”.
He said the association is mulling “taking a legal route” to resolve this crisis.
A group doctors, joined by nurses, also protested on Saturday by holding placards and raising slogans at the main gate of the facility.
North Delhi Mayor Prakash said he had met the agitating doctors on Friday and they had “understood the fund crunch we are facing”, and they were assured that NDMC was working to resolve their issues.
“However, Delhi government is doing politics over it by not releasing our due funds. And some of the AAP members also instigating the doctors to continue the stir, so that AAP can get political mileage out of it for the next civic polls,” he alleged.
There was no immediate reaction from the Aam Aadmi Party in this regard.
Meanwhile, shifting of patients from Hindu Rao began, with six of them already been taken to LNJP Hospital by this evening.
“Six patients have been brought in and six more will be coming to our facility,” said Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of the LNJP Hospital, a dedicated COVID-19 facility.
The mayor claimed, the plan to shift patients had been underway for the last one week or so.
“On an average, about 20-25 patients were being treated at the 900-bed facility, so we were in communication with officials of the Delhi Disaster Management Association, planning to shift COVID patients to other facilities and start regular OPD at Hindu Rao,” be said.
Asked if critical patients will continue to stay at Hindu Rao Hospital, he said, “Yes, four patients are critical, and they won’t be moved out”.
“We will create a corona ward where they are staying, and sanitise the facility once we get the order to restart OPD,” Prakash said.
Delhi government later released a statement, saying the BJP-ruled civic bodies must pay the salaries of the staff or “hand over the hospitals to us and we will run them better with better salaries on time”.
“I do not think they are short on funds, they impose heavy taxes on people and collect hefty money but nobody knows where that money goes. Their job is to play politics and blame games. Even after the directions of the central government on the removal of health licenses, they did not do it,” Jain said.