Moolchand Hospital nurses here have complained to the police and approached the Nurses Welfare Association for help against “extreme work pressure” and “mental harassment” by the hospital administration.

The administration has, however, refuted all the charges. While nurses of this private medical centre have complained of an uneasy truce between them and the administration following a strike last year-- the nurses went on strike on grounds of long and unregulated work hours, skewed nurse to patient ratios and low salaries-- the immediate provocation for the current stand off “is the allegation of theft on an on-duty nurse late last week’’. A nurse from the hospital , who recently resigned citing extreme harassment by the management, said: “In this particular case the hospital administration called the Lajpat Nagar police on March 15 following a verbal complaint by a patient about the loss of some personal belongings. At the behest of the management, the Lajpat Nagar police detained and questioned a male nurse at the Lajpat Nagar police station for four hours, as well as three female nurses inside the Moolchand nurses’ hostel.’’

“Till last week there was also no written complaint filed by the patient, so the detainment of the nursing staff amounted to a highly prejudiced and arbitrary action planned by the management and executed by the local police,’’ said Maya John from Centre for Struggling Women. Nurses at Moolchand Hospital said while they were ready to cooperate with any investigation on the matter, “what has us worried is the fact that the management is handpicking individual nurses and harassing them,’’ said another nurse on condition of anonymity.

The nurses claim that the management is indulging in arm-twisting of those who have been identified as leaders of the August 2012 strike.

“Our strike was brutally suppressed by the management last year and now we feel that the management’s unfair treatment of four nurses for allegedly stealing from a patient (laptop, etc) is an effort by them to push out the more vocal nurses who participated in last year’s strike. In this light, the verbal complaint of the patient was simply used as an excuse to take one such identified nurse to the police station so as to victimise him and tarnish his image,’’ added another nurse at the hospital.

Meanwhile, refuting any charges of harassment by the hospital authorities the Moolchand Hospital Medical Superintendent Dr. Madhu Handa said: “Two of our patients complained about having lost their valuables at the hospital and a first information report was lodged. As per routine police procedure all the staff members on duty on the day of the alleged theft were questioned. The nurses were not singled out in any manner. Even the house keeping staff members were questioned about the alleged incident. Also our management staff was present at the police station for questioning and we are in constant touch with the medical staff who have not complained to us about any harassment. The problem we are assuming is being caused by ex-Moolchand nursing staff members. We have a robust grievance redressal system in the hospital and there has been no cases of any harassment.’’

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