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Sharmili Mallick

Bhubaneswar: A flash protest sparked off at the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar today after the patients and their attendants failed to avail registration tickets to visit doctors of various departments at the hospital. Reason, the staff at the computerised central registration counter denied them tickets and stopped working alleging non-payment of salary for the last 11 months.

The move of the employees in contract with a private firm Unishop, triggered resentment among patients and their attendants who created ruckus at the hospital premises.

“The staff say they have not received salary so they will not work. They should have informed about the ceasework beforehand. We have been in the queue since early morning,” said an attendant.

“I am a cancer patient and undergoing medication. If they are not paid salary on time, how are we responsible for it? Why we are being forced to suffer,” rued a patient who was waiting in the queue before registration counter since morning.

Alleging that they have not received salary since the last 11 months, the staff of the computerised central registration counter stopped working today.

Asked, the employees said that that four of the five computers at the registration counter developed a mechanical breakdown some five days back and they have been issuing hand-written tickets since then.

“We have informed the concerned authorities about the system breakdown five days ago but no steps have been taken yet. Besides, we have not received our salary since last 11 months. We will not work until the systems are updated and our pending salaries are cleared,” said an employee at the registration department.

Another employee stated, “Every day we issue tickets to more than 2,000 patients. We have been giving hand-written tickets since the last five days.”

The employees had earlier informed the Superintendent and Director of the Hospital but they resorted to ceasework strike today as no steps were taken in this regard.

Police also rushed to the spot to pacify the mob.

Meanwhile, former MP and BJP national vice-president Baijayant Panda targeted the ruling government for non-implementation of Central health scheme while stating that health sector in Odisha has collapsed.

"The outsourcing agency abruptly closed the ticket counter today. We have issued them notices several times for their irregularities," said Dhananjay Das, deputy medical superintendent of Capital Hospital.

"The hospital has not paid us since the past 9 months. We are not being able to pay our employees. We can operate like this for couple of months, but for 9 months, it is impossible," said Ashok Kumar Das, the director of the outsourcing agency.

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