BMHRC doctors go on strike, complaining of intransigent and authoritarian management
Resident doctors of the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) — a super specialty hospital supposedly built in the service of Bhopal Gas Victims — tendered their resignations and went on strike alleging the management of a dictatorial attitude. The hospital is already under the ambit of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA).
Besides increases in salary, the Resident Doctors Association demanded the resignations of BMHRC Chairman Justice A M Ahmadi, BMHRC Trustee Aziz Ahmed Siddiqui and BMHRC Director General Indranil Mishra.
The doctors claimed that while Justice Ahmadi was inaccessible to them, the rest of the management ignored staff and were focused on gratifying their personal needs.
The doctors pointed out that earlier 60 doctors were posted at the hospital and alleged that owing to management intransigence, only 37 doctors were posted at the hospital at present.
Mr Siddiqui urged the doctors to return to work. He said that a sub-committee report into the question of salary increases would soon be presented to the management and a final decision taken.
He said salary increases would be paid retrospectively from July 2005.
Claiming that the doctors were being provided adequate facilities, Mr Siddiqui said the strike on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy anniversary smacked of conspiracy.
He commented that the state government could take action against “agitators”, as the hospital came under the provisions of the ESMA.
“The question is not only about a hike in salaries. The private patients are treated nicely while gas victims are ill-treated in the hospital. So we resigned collectively,” said a junior doctor.
The Bhopal Memorial Trust Hospital has been at the centre of controversy ever since Union Carbide’s 50.9% majority shareholding in UCIL, which had been attached by a Bhopal court, was released for sale by the Supreme Court.
Bhopal survivors protested against the ruling, alleging that it would allow Carbide to slip out of India and forget Bhopal. This has indeed proved to be the case. The judgement was vastly beneficial to Union Carbide.
Supreme Court Justice Ahmadi who presided over that decision later became Chief Trustee of the hospital, a move widely seen as inappropriate and raising questions of propriety.
Ahmadi’s subsequent dictatorial management style has done nothing to ease concerns.
What is hardly reported in any news story is that the junior doctors’ complaints include the way that gas victims, for whose benefit the hospital was supposedly built, are being marginalised and humiliated, their treatment down-graded.
Officials at the hospital have been reported in the past as saying they “cannot wait” for the first eight years to be up, because after this they will be able to concentrate on private patients.
The hospital’s super speciality units, indeed seem to have been designed with private patients, for example cardiac cases, in mind, because the heart is one of the few bodily organs that does not seem to have been affected by Union Carbide’s gases.
Not a single gas victim sits on the hospital’s board of trustees.