COVID-19: Poor financial health of hospitals leads to pay cut for doctors

Hospitals are incurring costs on procuring PPE kits and sanitisers, and also spend on other precautionary measures.

Hospitals are incurring costs on procuring PPE kits and sanitisers, and also spend on other precautionary measures.

Several private hospitals in the city that have stopped elective surgeries and are focussing only on emergency cases are struggling to pay salaries to their staff, including doctors. Most are functioning at less than 20% of their patient capacity.

While some hospital boards have asked a section of their doctors to take leave with loss of pay, others said both doctors and administrative staff have volunteered to take pay cuts.

R. Ravindra, president of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association, which has close to 400 hospitals in the city, said they have instructed their hospitals to ensure that they do not lay off or cut salaries of their nursing and housekeeping staff. “Hospitals are currently seeing patients in the range of 10% to 20% of their total capacity. Many of the specialists are freelancers and get paid based on the patients they treat. They come if there are patients. Since they do not have patients, they have not been coming,” he said.

Doctors involved in COVID-19 duties are being paid on time without any pay cut.

Vikram Sreeram, managing director of Mallige Hospital, admitted that it was indeed difficult times for hospitals. “We have adopted two strategies for our doctors. While some doctors will have to take a pay cut, we have told senior consultants that their salaries will be deferred,” he said. The salary cut for doctors ranges from 30% to 50%, based on their salary slabs. “Our occupancy is only 15%. We are taking only emergency cases on an outpatient basis.”

Mr. Vikram also said that some senior doctors have been requested not to report to work.

Some hospitals have told their staff that the salary cuts would be applicable for the next three months, after which the situation would be reviewed based on the trajectory of the pandemic.

In a circular, Vydehi Institute of Medical Sciences has requested the staff to forego an amount equivalent to 12 days’ pay. This is not applicable to staff members drawing less than ₹20,000 a month, which includes paramedical, support, and nursing staff.

Temporary shutdown

Explaining the effect of the lockdown and the pandemic on their financial health, Dr. Ravindra said that some of the smaller hospitals, including ENT and eye hospitals, have shut down temporarily. “We are getting reports of some hospitals having less than five patients,” he said.

At the same time, hospitals are incurring costs on procuring PPE kits and sanitisers, and are spending on other precautionary measures. The association has asked the State government if some of their outgoings for utilities, including electricity bill, can be deferred for the next couple of months.

For some doctors, the salary cut is going to make life difficult, but is unavoidable. “Our hospital is requesting us to accept a pay cut. I am the sole breadwinner of my family. Though we have the same bills to pay as earlier, I have no option but to accept the decision of the management,” a doctor said.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 7:26:31 pm |