Resident doctor forced to borrow money from parents

Sagardeep Bawa joined the hospital in 2017.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Senior resident at Hindu Rao Hospital Sagardeep Bawa was forced to borrow money from his parents as he has not been paid his salary for several months. “At my age, it is embarrassing to ask for money from my parents but I do not really have a choice,” said the 31-year-old, adding that he had been very close to defaulting on his life insurance premium.

“It has become very common for residents and juniors in the hospital to borrow money from each other because everyone knows what the situation is like,” said Dr. Bawa.

A resident of Mohali, Dr. Bawa said he had come to pursue his post-graduation at the hospital — which comes under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation — as its medical college had a good reputation and would set him up for a government job.

He joined the hospital in 2017 and was prepared for his salary to be delayed once in a while but had never thought that the situation would become so dire.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, salaries would sometimes get delayed by two months, but now there are delays of 3-4 months.

Many doctors have been forced to petition authorities and protest regularly, he said.

When he started at the hospital, there were around 25 senior residents with him. Due to regular salary issues, only five remain. In June alone, 4-5 doctors did not renew their contract with the hospital, which has been declared a COVID-19 facility, he added.

The resident doctors’ association of the hospital, in which Dr. Bawa is an office-bearer, had written to authorities last month decrying delay in payment of salaries. Last week, they wrote to Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal calling for his intervention.

“As doctors we cannot even really go on strike and stop our work. Apart from legal roadblocks such as the Epidemic Diseases Act there is also a moral responsibility. All we are asking for is our salary, which is a basic right, especially in a pandemic... why does it have to go to the court every time?” he said.

‘Hospital not to blame’

“We understand that the hospital administration is not to blame, the responsibility lies with the civic bodies and the government to ensure there are funds,” he added.

Dr. Bawa is currently part of the hospital’s rapid response team and has been managing a COVID-19 testing centre in Alipur. “We test around 70 people every day out of which 4-5 test positive” he said.

In his final year of residency, Dr. Bawa is on the lookout for alternative opportunities.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 12:05:37 PM |

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