The North Delhi Municipal Corporation on Wednesday said it would not renew the contracts of some contractual doctors who wanted to resign amid the coronavirus outbreak. Earlier, the civic body had rejected their resignations and had threatened disciplinary action against them.

The health workers who resigned had reportedly cited lack of personal protective equipment as the reason of their resignation. Unidentified doctors told The Indian Express that the Hindu Rao Hospital in Delhi had received 10 to 12 resignations over the last few days. “Additionally, several doctors said they don’t want to get their contracts renewed,” a doctor was quoted as saying.

After a copy of an order rejecting the resignations of doctors and nurses was shared on Twitter, the civic body commissioner said the directive had been issued without her knowledge, and legal action would be taken against the person who tweeted it. “Their resignations will not be accepted and their names will be sent to the DMC Office Nursing Council of India to take disciplinary action against them,” the order had said.

A civic body official, Jai Prakash, told The Times of India that these doctors had joined the hospital on contract last year. “All four doctors submitted their resignation on Wednesday, at a time when we should stand together in the fight against coronavirus,” he said. “However, no resignation from any nurse was received officially.”

‘Only a couple of contract doctors’

Varsha Joshi, the NDMC commissioner, posted a series of tweets after the order started doing the rounds on Twitter. She said the order had been issued “without the knowledge of Additional Commissioner and Commissioner”, and disciplinary action would be taken for “disobedience”. “From my side, ANY unwilling worker is MORE than welcome to resign,” Joshi tweeted. “Especially in a pandemic.”

Joshi claimed “only a couple of contract doctors” had “expressed a desire to leave”. “Their applications will be processed tomorrow [Thursday] itself,” she said. “Plainly, their contract WILL NOT BE RENEWED IN FUTURE.”

On claims that the staff had resigned citing poor quality of personal protective equipment amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Joshi said: “The only remotely Covid related activity presently going on in HRH [Hindu Rao Hospital] is screening, for which more than enough PPE kits are available. More PPE kits are being procured directly from the manufacturers. We will evidently never undertake any activity which risks our staff.”

Moreover, Joshi said a doctor who originally tweeted the order no longer worked at Hindu Rao Hospital and had “no locus standi in this matter except a desire to create unrest”. She said he would be booked under the Epidemic Diseases Act.

Joshi also shared pictures of some doctors working at the hospital in protective gear.

Early in March, Joshi had said that a 14-bed isolation ward had been set up at the Hindu Rao Hospital. “All required logistics have been provided here,” Hindustan Times had quoted her as saying. “At least 3,000 N95 masks and 3,000 PPE kits along with ventilators are available in the hospital.”