‘Na roti hai na daal hai, ghar ka bura haal hai (no bread, no pulses, our home is in ruin)’ are among the slogans one can hear at the gates of North MCD-run Hindu Rao Hospital. Facing non-payment of salaries, doctors and other healthcare workers have been protesting for over 20 days.
Among them are five doctors who have been on a hunger strike for three days. Donning their stethoscopes and white coats, the doctors sit with placards in their hands that read ‘no work, no pay’.
However, they cannot resist treating their patients. Every time one walks in, a doctor or two get up from the protest and go back to the OPD to treat them. It does not matter what the ailment is - a broken leg, or a migraine - the doctors do not turn them away. “We can’t see anyone in pain. Being a doctor we just can’t turn away our patients," one of them says.
Even as the Centre and the Delhi government continue to blame each other, here’s what the ‘doctors without salaries’ have to say:
‘I Ask My Retired Parents for Money’: Dr S, Anesthesiologist and Critical Care
“I am 31-years-old. I should be taking care of my mother, who is chronically ill, and my retired father. But instead, I ask them, my retired parents, to lend me money, so I can stay in Delhi, pay the rent and commute to the hospital to treat my patients."
‘Can’t Get My Child his Vaccinations’: Dr A, General Surgeon
“Both my wife and I work at the Hindu Rao and neither of us has been getting our salaries. This means there has been zero income in our house for the last four months. We took our 2-year-old son for his meningococcal and pneumococcal vaccination which cost around Rs 5,000. We couldn’t afford it and had to come back without getting the vaccine. It has become difficult for us to sustain."
I Had to Plead With My Relatives for Money to Get My Covid Positive Parents Treated’: Dr P, Orthopedist
“Both my parents, who are aged above 60, tested positive for coronavirus and both are admitted in a hospital. Being a doctor myself, I have to borrow money from my relatives so I can get my parents treated. This is not the day for which I worked so hard and became a doctor."
‘I am Not Able to Repay My Loan’: Dr A, Gynecologist
“I took a loan for my degree. Today, I have become a doctor but I am not able to repay my education loan. I am a defaulter who has not been able to pay his loan for 3 months. I get calls from my bank every day. I tell them I am helpless."
‘A Diwali Without Lights’: Dr S, Anesthesiologist
“Around this time every year, my wife and kids start preparing for the festive season. This time, there are no lights, no sweets, no new clothes. My family is also not asking me to get them all these things. It hurts to no end; not being able to provide my family even the small joys. The worst thing? My children look at me and tell me they will never become a doctor."