HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
POKHARA: Citing hospital management's complete indifference to their demands, doctors at Pokhara-based Manipal Hospital halted all services except emergency for an indefinite period from today.
Doctors have been demanding for a salary hike. After the hospital was shut under the leadership of All-Nepal Progressive People's Health Workers' Union, only 22 patients registered their names at the hospital today.
According to the hospital administration, a total of 650 patients had received the service from the out patient department (OPD) on Friday alone.
Last year too, during the same period, doctors' agitation had brought all services to a grinding halt and it was called off after the Industrial Promotion Department of Ministry of Industry issued directive to increase the doctors' salary from the new fiscal year.
Dr Dipak Koirala, secretary of All-Nepal Progressive People's Health Workers' Union, Manipal, said that they were compelled to launch the protest after the hospital management showed no sign of increasing the salary though two weeks had passed by after the beginning of new fiscal year. "We shall continue our struggle unless all our demands are addressed," he said.
Also, the doctors have accused the management of showing no apathy towards fulfilling their demands. Koirala demanded that salary be hiked in accordance with rising inflation. He also demanded that Nepali doctors should get the remuneration at par with the Indian doctors. They alleged the management of violating the government's fiat.
Joint Secretary Begendraraj Sharma of the Department of Industrial Promotion said that his department has already sent a letter to the Manipal Hospital principal Dr BM Nagpal, and directed the management to form hospital statute and address the demands put forth by the doctors.
Doctors complain that the management has failed to formulate the hospital code of conduct and its statute. Hospital's Administrative Officer Jivanath Niure, however, said that hospital had formulated the statute and sent it to the concerned authority as per the government's diktat.
Over 850 staff including teachers and doctors are working in the hospital. Of them, 134 are doctors alone. Sources said hospital pays Rs 20 million per month for the staffs' salary.
Following the hospital closure, service seekers are forced to return without treatment. Puma Paudel of Kaski said that she was caught by surprise after the hospital was closed all of sudden. Paudel complained that she was forced to go somewhere else for her treatment.