Covid: Doctors in India leave hospital to protest on streets after not being paid for months

Words by Sanjay Jha, ITV News, Delhi

Doctors treating Covid-19 patients at a hospital in New Delhi, India, are protesting against the non-payment of their wages for more than four months.

Resident doctors at the council-run Hindu Rao hospital have not been paid since June. On October 5, doctors and nurses of the hospital announced an indefinite strike against the administration.

“We are humans too and have a family to run. We are risking our lives for humanity. Is it too much to ask for our due salaries?” Dr Abhimanyu Sardana, president of the facility's Resident Doctors’ Association of the facility said. 

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to survive like this; we can't even pay our rent in absence of salary.”

The 900-bed facility, one of the largest council-run hospitals in Delhi, is currently a dedicated Covid-19 facility and many of its healthcare workers have contracted the virus since the pandemic began.

Frontline healthcare workers leading India's battle against coronavirus face salary cuts alongside discrimination, distrust, and violence. 

The doctors have not been paid since june. Credit: ITV

As Indian health officials have ramped up testing and the virus spreads through the rural heartland, the country is poised to surpass USA and reach the largest number of total recorded Covid infections.

With added pressure on health infrastructure doctors in India are reeling under the Covid-19 treatment burden and government complacence. Exhausted Indian doctors are battling surging coronavirus cases. 

Doctors working in private hospitals have accused government officials of “indifference” to the plight of doctors and other healthcare workers on the frontlines after an Indian junior health minister said the government had no data of the deaths of doctors due to Covid.

The Indian Medical Association, an apex body of doctors, accused the government of "indifference", "abdication" and "abandonment of heroes".

The organisation said 382 doctors have died from coronavirus.

“To feign that the statistics of the total number of doctors and healthcare workers infected by Covid-19 doesn’t merit the attention of the nation is abominable,” said the Indian Medical Association.

With ever-increasing coronavirus cases, India’s healthcare workers will face increasing pressure in the coming months. The Indian government is being urged to do all it can to help.