With 102 temporary workers at Sassoon Hospital going on an indefinite strike since November 25, the patients at the 1,296-bed state-run facility are facing a tough time.
The workers are demanding an end to the contractual nature of their jobs and want the hospital management to employ them on a permanent basis.
As a result of the agitation, the patients are facing severe negligence, which the hospital management has denied, maintaining that they had adequate staff and that the hospital was functioning normally.
“My 70-year-old sister has been lying on the stretcher since morning and there is no one attending to her,” said Sunita Chandekar who had come to admit her sister at the hospital yesterday.
Also, due to lack of manpower, the wards are being combined, with 80 patients in each ward and only one member of the working staff has been assigned to look after them. Besides, the hygiene at the hospital has taken a backseat due to the strike.
But, the hospital authorities have denied that the strike was having any effect on the services at the hospital. “Services are running smoothly in Sassoon and we are doing our level best in taking care of our patients,” says Ajay Chandanwale, the Dean of Sassoon Hospital and B J Medical College.
The superintendent of the hospital gave a similar response when asked if the hospital was facing any problems due to the ongoing agitation. “The hospital is not facing any crisis as such. The remaining staff is working very hard to make up for the lack of task force,” said D G Kulkarni, medical superintendent.
Temporary workers have been working as provisional staff in the government hospitals across the state since the past 15 to 20 years. The court had issued an order three years ago, directing that these workers be made permanent, but the authorities till date have taken no action.
“These workers have been denied their rights for several years. They are paid lesser salary than the permanent staff, even though they work as hard as the permanent workers,” said Meena Sapera, representative of the working union, who has been fighting for the rights of these workers from the very start and voicing the difficulties faced by them.