Published: 31st May 2023
Senior Residents accuse Delhi hospital of withholding allowances; admin denies
The residents were accused of “misbehaviour” when they tried to take the issue up with the Medical Superindentent of the hospital
Senior Residents at Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Delhi allege the hospital refused to give them the House Rent Allowance (HRA) and the Travel Allowance (TA) along with their salaries. Moreover, when they tried to convey the same to Dr SK Arora the Medical Superintendent of the hospital, they were apparently served explanation memos.
The issue started on May 23, when Dr Abhishek Pratap Singh, a senior resident in the Orthopedics Department, was asked by the Accounts Department to submit the details of his bank account.
“I joined the hospital as a Senior Resident on April 19 this year, and I was asked to submit my account details on May 23, which is more than a month from when I joined. When I enquired about HRA and TA, the department said that we would be getting none of them and that these were the orders of the Medical Superintendent (MS) of the hospital,” Abhishek says.
Moreover, when the doctor asked for a physical form of the order as proof, the Accounts Department refused to show any, he says. “They asked me to take the matter up directly with the MS,” he adds.
Not an individual case
After this incident with the Accounts department, Abhishek discovered that he was not alone. “There were so many other Senior Residents who were also being denied their HRA and TA, and I realised that this was a much bigger issue. The hospital is not paying its residents their allowances, which we should rightfully get,” he said. To resolve the matter, the Senior Residents decided to approach the Medical Superintendent directly.
“It was decided that about 20 Senior Residents – one from each department, would present our case before the Medical Superintendent, and seek more clarity on the matter,” Abhishek said.
Confronting the Management
On May 25, the Senior Residents sought the audience of the Medical Superintendent, and discuss the issue of the non-disbursal of allowances. “This is a problem affecting a huge number of us, and we wanted to clear all misunderstandings, if any,” said Dr Abhishek.
However, the meeting did not go as well as they expected it to go.
Dr Abhishek alleges that from the entire group, only two people were allowed to enter the Medical Superintendent’s office. “But, when we tried to explain what the issue was, the Medical Superintendent refused to listen to us any further,” he claims.
Moreover, when the two doctors tried to press the Medical Superintendent to hear them out, they were allegedly asked to leave the room and come back at 2.30 PM, added Dr Abhishek.
Dr Abhishek further alleged that when the doctors returned at 2.30 pm as they were asked to, the Medical Superintendent still refused to talk to them. That very day, Dr Abhishek and all the doctors in the group were reportedly served with disciplinary notices and were asked.
The memo accused the doctors of “hampering patient care” by coming at OPD hours, not giving their representation through “proper channels”, “barging into the chamber” of the Medical Superintendent,” and “threatening to go on a strike in the presence of the Deputy Medical Superintendent and the Head of Department (Paediatrics)”. It further asks for an explanation from the doctors within two working days, as to why they should not be initiated against them.
Management’s response is uncalled for, say doctors
The doctors say that the Medical Superintendent and Deputy Medical Superintendent behaved in a very unprecedented and unfair manner, for simply being asked to provide what they must rightfully get.
Dr Pramod, one of the Senior Residents in the group, says, “The way both the Medical Superintendent and the Deputy Superintendent responded to us was rude and uncalled for. Without hearing our issues, we were ushered out of the office and were given disciplinary notices half an hour later.”
“All of us took permission from our supervising doctors to be excused from duty and even mentioned the same in the registers. We also took an appointment with the Medical Superintendent’s Office before meeting him as well,” says Dr Pramod. He further says that they made sure that the OPD was running smoothly, and only paused their duties when they were sure that it was. “We also returned to our duties after we were dismissed by the Medical Superintendent,” he continues.
“Moreover, the reason we decided that only one of us went from each department was that we did not want to disrupt patient service,” the doctor adds.
“Most senior residents working in the hospital do not hail from Delhi. Even those who do, have to commute long distances to the hospital,” Dr Pramod laments. The doctor, a resident of Delhi, laments that long hours and the commute prevent him from attending to his mother, who is a geriatric patient. “Both my wife and I are employed. Who would respond if something happened to my mother?” laments the doctor, adding that it would be difficult for him to afford a house in the vicinity of the hospital without the HRA.
Dr Abhishek, who is a native of Bihar, moved to Delhi with his parents. “I am the sole earning member of my family. I have been living with my parents in a small room. Because I am a newly-joined employee of the hospital, I did not get my salary yet. And now, the hospital is refusing to provide allowances? How will I be able to support my family?” he asks.
The doctors say that every government hospital in Delhi is mandated to provide either accommodation or an HRA – and refusing to do so is against the rules. “If the hospital refuses to release our HRA and TA, we will approach the press and the Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) to help us amplify this issue,” said Dr Abhishek.
No tolerance for misbehaviour, says Hospital Administration
Responding to accusations, Dr SK Arora, the Medical Superintendent of the hospital told EdexLive, “Under the Residency Act, the hospitals have to give their Senior Residents HRA only after there is no more accommodation on the hospital premises. We still have about 11 rooms left, and we cannot provide HRA until those rooms have been occupied,” adding that the Delhi Government will take the hospital to task if HRAs are allowed to the Senior Residents under these circumstances.
“Let the Senior Residents occupy the rooms, and we will release the allowances to the rest,” he adds.
As for the incident and explanation notices, Dr Arora asserts that it is stance of the hospital against the doctors’ “gross indiscipline and misconduct”. “Whatever may be the issue, nothing is pressing enough to warrant pausing patient service and paralysing OPD operations. Not only have the doctors done that, but they also threatened to go on strike,” he says.
As of now, it remains to be seen whether there will be any disciplinary action against the Senior Residents, or if they will be given their allowances.