Even as Ahmedabad is locked in a tough battle against Covid-19, with more than 50 private hospitals joining in, it has emerged that several medical personnel have quit their jobs at a time when manpower is in already in short supply.
“When I heard that all private hospitals had to give away half of their facilities for Covid care, I submitted an affidavit to the municipal corporation stating I had severe shortage of housekeeping staff which would only increase with time,” said
Half of the trust-based hospital was turned into a Covid-designated healthcare facility on June 3. However, as soon as they learnt of this news, 12 staffers who were scared and unwilling to work during the pandemic, left the place. Only three have returned to work since then.
Dr Shah, an anaesthesiologist himself, said, “I cannot stop them from leaving and many of them had genuine reasons like a small child at home and so on. We mainly lost housekeeping staff, a few nurses and a pharmacist.”
This is not the only hospital to have faced such a problem. At
He said, “We informed the AMC about the staff shortage. Since we had even doctors leaving us, including our primary physician, we told the AMC they could run the hospital. The AMC sent these staffers a warning that they would be prosecuted under IPC section 188 as they were medical personnel. But only two doctors have returned to work. No action has been taken on the others.” Bodyline has had to contractually hire new staff to run the Covid facility.
At Parekh’s Hospital, which was in the initial list of 42 hospitals to be converted to Covid-19 facilities, all staff members handed in their resignations together to the management, saying they were unwilling to work in Covid care.
Gujarat HC had issued orders for the same later on, following which, the administration said they offered double the pay to their staff members. “Finally, about 70-75% agreed to return to work. While some are still unwilling, a couple of them have called me saying they would like to return,” said Dr Ketu Parekh.
AMC has taken a stern view of these ‘desertions’ and issued notices to employees of certain hospitals. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Manish Kumar, who is in-charge of these hospitals, said, “We have issued notices to 50 people in three hospitals from where we received applications stating the staff had left after the hospitals were designated for Covid duty.”
He added, “Some hospitals have informed us that their staff left due to Covid-19 fear. Those who do not work, are liable to be prosecuted under the Epidemic Diseases Act, the Disaster Management Act as well as under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.”
Section 188 of the IPC deals with ‘disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant’. A person found guilty of this charge can face up to six months in prison and be fined Rs 1,000.
The warning given by the AMC states that the employees must join their duties immediately, failing which, they would be liable for prosecution. However, when asked whether prosecutions had been initiated, Manish Kumar said, “We have not had to use it till now as many staff members in the hospitals have returned. However, if the problem persists, we will do it.”