Nationwide nurses’ strike enters second day, situation critical, 2 protesters held in Delhi

New Delhi: Two nurses were arrested in Delhi as hospital services in the national capital and other cities continued to suffer on the second day of the nationwide indefinite strike by nurses today, even as the Centre and the nursing federation held talks to seek a way out of the crisis.

The national capital seems to have been hit the hardest by the stir as patients suffered in the absence of adequate staff at hospitals, which are managing with contractual nurses and interns.

The strike has been called by the All India Government Nurses Federation (AIGNF) and supported by the Delhi Nurses Federation seeking redressal of issues related to pay and allowances.

“We are having talks with the government at the moment. Members of the nursing federations are currently discussing the issue with the Joint Secretary at Nirman Bhawan, after talks with the nursing advisor earlier in the day,” AIGNF spokesperson Liladhar Ramchandani told PTI.

Soon after the strike began yesterday, Delhi government had invoked the stringent ESMA declaring the stir as illegal.

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Secretary K K Sharma held a meeting with Principal Secretary (Home), Commissioner of Police and Health Department officials to take stock of the situation.

“The Chief Secretary was informed that two members of the nurses’ union have already been arrested,” Delhi government said in a statement, quoting a press release by the city’s Health Department.

The agitation has come at a time when Delhi and several other cities are battling rising cases of dengue and chikungunya.

Several routine operations in hospitals have been cancelled, scheduled surgeries postponed, OPD timings curtailed and emergency services affected too.

During the meeting, medical superintends of hospitals reported that there is an increased rush of patients in fever clinics and the OPDs, on account of the upsurge in dengue and chikunguniya cases.

The city government in a statement said the Health Department has issued “public notice” asking striking staff to resume duty “immediately”.

Sharma was also informed about the shortage of nursing staff at city hospitals.

“Major hospitals are having only one-third of the staff strength. The situation has become critical on account of the strike,” it said.

Government hospitals in Delhi, including those run by the Centre, the city government or civic bodies employ about 20,000 nurses.