New Delhi: The Safdarjung Hospital has accepted its resident doctors’ demand to not deduct one day’s salary to contribute to the PM CARES fund set up to deal with the Covid-19 crisis in India.
The move comes after resident doctors’ associations at four major medical college-hospitals in the national capital had demanded that contributions to the fund be made optional instead of mandatory.
The RDAs that had made the demand were the ones at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Safdarjung Hospital, Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Medical Sciences (ABVIMS)-Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, and Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital.
‘Make it opt-in’
The demand began at AIIMS when, on 8 April, RDA general secretary Dr Srinivas Rajkumar tweeted: “RDA AIIMS appreciates the initiative by government in setting up the PM CARES fund and acknowledging the financial burden the pandemic of this scale can pose on the underfunded Indian Public health care system. But make sure it’s opt-in.”
RDA AIIMS appreciates the initiative by Government in setting up the PM-CARES fund and acknowledging the financial burden the pandemic of this scale can pose on the underfunded Indian Public health care system.
— Srinivas Rajkumar M.D(AIIMS) (@srinivas_aiims) April 8, 2020
Dr Srinivas told ThePrint: “We demand that the contribution should be made optional. Those who do not want to contribute should not be forced.”
The RDA then put forward its demands to the AIIMS registrar, writing: “RDA AIIMS reiterates that as the majority of residents have donated on a personal level and want to exercise the choice of a further donation, we again request the administration to reconsider the decision and make it opt-in or reject it altogether.”
The AIIMS RDA further said a major pandemic or even a national emergency cannot be the reason to curb the rights of people, particularly healthcare staff. It said: “RDA AIIMS has made its stand very clear even in the past during emergency and will continue to stand for the values it represents.”
The Safdarjung RDA had made a similar demand on the same day, its president Dr Manish told ThePrint.
The next day, the ABVIMS-RML Hospital RDA also joined its AIIMS counterpart and refused to contribute a day’s salary to this fund. The RDA wrote to the medical superintendent that residents have been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19, and expressed its disapproval about the deduction of salary.
LHMC’s RDA also joined them, saying: “…keeping in mind the dangerous situation, residents should be provided with risk and hazard allowance.”
Citing a news report about LHMC joining the demand, AIIMS’ Dr Srinivas tweeted: “While everybody goes crazy about PM CARES, the real frontline soldiers who know the reality…”