50 doctors at plush hospital haven’t been paid in six months
Doctors approach police seeking action against management of the facility, which has been running in losses since it was set up in 2010.
Denied salary for the past six months, 50 senior doctors of the reputable SevenHills Hospital in Marol have approached the police, asking them to take action against the management that is allegedly mounting pressure on them to quit.
These full-time consultants, who have been protesting in demand for their salaries since July last year, started an indefinite strike on December 28. They have stopped admitting new patients and also refused to cater to those at the out-patients department, leaving the healthcare facilities in the hands of 50-odd junior doctors. However, they have decided to only treat patients in the emergency ward.
At present, the 306-bed plush hospital in Andheri, which has been financially bleeding for some time now, has only 17 patients.
The doctors claimed that in the past six months, they have had several meetings with the management over their pending salaries. And each time, they were given false assurances that their salaries would be deposited soon in their accounts. But eventually, the word was never kept.
They then decided to approach the MIDC police after the hospital authorities allegedly started pressuring them to tender their resignations and leave the hospital.
“The hospital’s HR department is mounting pressure on me to resign. They also threatened me, after which I decided to lodge a complaint with the cops,” said a protesting doctor, who didn’t want to reveal his identity.
“We have been forced to take this step. It feels miserable to turn away patients who seek our treatment, but we have no other choice. People have to also think about us,” added another senior doctor.
“We have not been paid since the last six months, how can we sustain our families? I haven’t paid my children’s school fees since the past three months. I have requested the school authorities to give us time,” said a senior doctor at the hospital.
One protesting doctor said that his plight was worse as his wife also works in Seven Hills.
The doctors claimed that the hospital had always delayed their salaries by one or two months and as a result, many renowned doctors quit due to non-payment of salaries.
The hospital, built on 17 acres of BMC land close to the international airport land under public-private partnership, had started out as a 1,500-bed facility. It was inaugurated by then President Pratibha Patil in July 2010. However, the hospital authorities had always maintained that they were operating in losses and eventually, the bed number came down to 306.
Asenior hospital official said that during its initial days, they used to get around 20 to 30 patients per day. But after the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayi Aarogya Yojana (RGJAY) came into force, the patient count crossed 100-150.
Last week, the doctors had a meeting with the chairman and founder of the hospital, Dr Jitendra Maganti, but nothing fruitful came out of it.
“We were told that the hospital is incurring huge losses. We were asked to wait till March by the time, but by that time, it would have been nine months. We can’t survive that long without salaries as we have no other source of income. If we quit, we will never get our dues,” said a doctor.
Sources in the hospital said that the authorities had already taken a Rs 1,200-crore loan from a bank and around Rs 600 crore from a private firm, which is a partner in SevenHills. There are also strong rumours that the management is in talk to sell the facility.
Dr Ashok Asthana, director of SevenHills Health Care Pvt Ltd, was not available for comments.
This correspondent visited the hospital and to seek an appointment with Dr Asthana, but the request was turned down. His mobile phone was also switched off.
Dr Maganti was also not reachable for comments despite several attempts.(Mumbai Mirror)