New Delhi: Almost 18,000 doctors and nurses working at North and East Corporation hospitals on Tuesday took out a march from the Civic Centre to Rajghat in protest against non-payment of salaries.

Armed with stethoscopes, lab coats and begging bowls, the protesters began the procession around 11am. They were seen telling passersby that CM Arvind Kejriwal and PM Narendra Modi had orphaned them and hence they were out on streets, asking for money. "We have collected Rs 313 and will send two separate drafts to the PM and the CM with this money," said Dr Aditya Gupta, president, Resident Doctors' Association.

Director of health administration D K Seth said salaries for November will be released on Tuesday while those for December will be released in two days. "When we had gone on strike in December, they released our salaries for October. Now, they are clearing November and December dues. It seems we'll have to strike work again in March to get our salaries for January and February. This is not done. Why can't they pay us on time," asked Gupta.

Every day, at least 12,000 patients are treated at North Corporation hospitals and another 500 are admitted there for various ailments. The ongoing agitation has affected medical services in most of the hospitals, including Bara Hindu Rao, the largest civic hospital in Delhi.

Protests also rocked Rajan Babu Institute of Pulmonary Medicine and Tuberculosis on Tuesday morning as workers dumped garbage in front of its main gate. It has the maximum number of beds among all North Corporation-run hospitals. Emergency services at the hospital were hit following the protests. Between the North and East civic bodies, emergency services in seven major hospitals are being managed by a handful of doctors.

At Kasturba Hospital in Daryaganj, ward boys and ayahs were on duty despite the ongoing strike. Ranjit, a ward boy in the postnatal ward, could be seen distributing hot milk to the mothers. He said, "I haven't received salary for four months but if I strike work, who will take care of them. Our kitchen is also functioning."

Pointing at the clean floors in the paediatrics ward, Pushpa, an ayah, said, "We have assisted doctors in shifting patients, swept the floors, kept it clean so that these poor kids don't suffer." Lactating mothers and parents of children also confirmed that doctors had been visiting patients on a regular basis.

Courtesy: Times of India