The administration at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences has issued a show-cause notice to a senior resident doctor who had flagged safety concerns about the protective gears given to healthcare workers at the hospital, PTI reported on Wednesday. Dr Srinivas Rajkumar T had tweeted on May 25 that the statistics provided by the health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research about N95 masks were a lie.
“Dr Srinivas has provided no details to support his claim,” read the show-cause notice. “Apart from being a senior resident at AIIMS, he is also the Secretary of the RDA [Resident Doctors’ Association], AIIMS, New Delhi. By virtue of holding these important positions, his words have the ability to influence the public and healthcare workers around the country. The notice said such “unsubstantiated statements” can down the “morale of the frontline healthcare workers, leading them to doubt the protection available to them”. It added that the doctor “sought media visibility to malign institutions” since he voiced his claim on a public forum instead of availing the institutional mechanisms for grievance redressal.
The resident doctor has been asked why action should not be taken against him for breach of Central Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules by 5 pm on Wednesday.
Last week, the institute’s RDA had expelled Srinivas from the post of general secretary. It had said that his claims were false. “Yes, I have been expelled from the RDA and this is the result of continuous pressure from the administration,” Srinivas told The Wire on Monday. “I stand by what I said and everything I said is verifiable and based on facts. Every letter we wrote to the media raised important issues and we want a change in the condition of healthcare workers at AIIMS.”
The country’s premier medical institution is one of the worst-affected hospitals in the Capital. More than 200 staff at the hospital have been infected with coronavirus since February.
Last week, Srinivas had said that if the attitude of the authorities did not change then it would affect the strength of the hospital. “If this continues, we will be short of HCWs [health care workers] to treat patients,” the doctor had said. “Since March, we have been writing and fighting for the safety of hostel premises, poor sanitation, lack of proper quarantine protocol and need for adequate testing.”
The doctor also said that lack of good quality N95 masks and other components of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers has been a major issue. “The N95 masks do not meet even MoHFW [Ministry of Health and Family Welfare] safety standards, forget international standards,” Srinivas said. “Our relentless pursuit of resident welfare has been met with threats from administration and attempts to jeopardise the career of RDA [Resident Doctors’ Association] executives by the administration.”
However, RDA president Adarsh Pratap Singh told The Telegraph that AIIMS has provided optimal and good quality PPEs in most of the places, especially in Covid-dedicated areas. He, however, admitted that infection is spreading in AIIMS. “It is because healthcare workers are not provided with PPE and N-95 in all the areas [hospital sections], he said. “But, in the dedicated Covid-areas, we have excellent PPEs and N-95 masks.”