New Delhi: Nurses in government hospitals across the country today called off their indefinite strike after reaching a compromise with the Centre, in a major relief for Delhi and some other cities battling rising cases of dengue and chikungunya.
The strike called by the All India Government Nurses Federation (AIGNF) yesterday had severely crippled health services at hospitals in the national capital and some other cities in the last two days.
After after the strike began, Delhi government had invoked the stringent Essential Service Maintenance Act (ESMA) and declared the stir as illegal. Two male nurses of Dr Ambedkar Hospital in outer Delhi were today arrested under the Act.
"We have been given assurance by the central government that our outstanding issues would be resolved by September 12. Also, the Delhi Chief Secretary has assured us that the police cases against the two nurses would be withdrawn and they would be released. So, we are calling off our nationwide strike," AIGNF spokesperson Liladhar Ramchandani told PTI.
The Centre has constituted a committee headed by the Finance Secretary to look into the outstanding demands which has invited the nurses federation on September 12 for talks.
"We received a call from Union Health Minister J P Nadda and he asked us to withdraw the strike as Delhi and many other cities are grappling with rising cases of dengue and chikungunya. This health crisis was one of the major reasons we decided to call off the stir," he said.
The nurses have been demanding revision in pay and allowances for quite some time now.
Earlier in the day, Delhi hospitals, hit the hardest by the strike, managed with contractual nurses and interns to make up for the shortage of nursing, while Centre and the nursing federation held talks to find a way out of the crisis.
"We had talks with the government till late night. Members of the nursing federations discussed the issue with the Joint Secretary at Nirman Bhawan after talks with the nursing advisor earlier in the day," Ramchandani said.
Several routine operations in hospitals were cancelled, surgeries postponed, OPD timings curtailed and emergency services affected too.
At least 487 cases of dengue have so far been reported in the national capital this season, with 368 of them being recorded last month. Eight deaths due to it have also been reported. At least 432 people have been diagnosed with chikungunya in Delhi so far.
Till July 28, 9,990 suspected chikungunya cases were recorded in the country, with Karnataka reporting 7,591 cases. Also, over 15,000 cases of dengue have been reported across the country this year.