Bowing to public pressure, AIIMS OPD to remain open on 22 January

AIIMS New Delhi clarifies that all clinical services will remain open on 22 January to provide seamless and uninterrupted patient care, as per a notice released on Sunday afternoon

File photo of AIIMS Delhi
File photo of AIIMS Delhi

Shalini Sahay

Following massive public outrage at the decision to shut down clinical services including the OPD until 2.30 pm on Monday, 22 January, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Sunday clarified that the decision had been reversed. All those services will now remain open.

The decision to shut down the services on Monday had been communicated on Saturday in pursuance to the Central government’s notification declaring a half-day holiday on 22 January to coincide with the pran pratishtha (consecration) of the Ram temple in Ayodhya.

Lawyer, author and activist Kapil Sibal had reacted in horror and quipped, “In Ram Rajya this would never have happened!” Former Union health secretary Sujata K. Rao was equally disapproving. “It's totally unacceptable, no matter how important an occasion be to shut down AIIMS or any hospital, clinic or essential services. This is very wrong and nothing short of a crude and brazen abuse of power. Shameful. Karma will hit us,” she posted on X.

Army veteran Anil Duhoon wondered aloud why, if Indian airspace was not shut, trains not halted, road traffic not stopped, and the police still working, why should hospitals shut down?

Rajendra Kumbhat from Gujarat took a potshot by saying, “You close down the central government (offices). It is okay. It does more harm by working, than not working. You close down schools and colleges; we understand. Education is suicidal for your kind of politics. You close down the stock market. No problem. 60% of starving population that survive on 5-kg free ration doesn’t have much to do with stock market. But hospitals?”

Priyanka Chaturvedi, Rajya Sabha MP of the Shiv Sena voiced her outrage by pointing out that “a total of 32,000 OPD Appointments, 1,200 Surgeries will be cancelled/rescheduled at the four government run hospitals in Delhi since they have declared half a day off on 22nd.”

There were others who defended the decision and pointed out that it was not as if AIIMS never shuts down; its holiday list extends to 17 days in a year. They also maintained that the AIIMS OPD does remain closed on Sundays. With emergency services open, what was the fuss all about, they asked.

The fuss was because of the sudden holiday notice. Thousands of patients from all over north India book appointments online several weeks and months in advance. Many of the poorer patients and their attendants cannot afford a decent accommodation in New Delhi and are forced to spend the nights on the pavements and subways outside AIIMS. A sudden cancellation and an extra day for a fresh appointment would have cost them both money and time.

New agency PTI added, “To shut OPD services suddenly would severely inconvenience patients and attendants, especially those who had travelled from outside Delhi in the hope of good, affordable healthcare at the state-run facility.

On Sunday morning, AIIMS-Delhi issued a fresh notification stating that the OPD "shall remain open to attend to patients with appointments in order to prevent any inconvenience to them..."

Safdarjung Hospital, another key healthcare facility in the national capital, has said OPD registration will take place between 8 am and 10 am and all registered patients will be attended to. The hospital will run pharmacy services till noon but elective surgeries won't take place, reported

Opposition leaders had slammed the AIIMS announcement of a half-day break for the Ayodhya event. Rajya Sabha MP and Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Priyanka Chaturvedi had hit out at the move with a sarcastic post on X. "Hello humans, Please don't go into a medical emergency on 22nd, and if you do schedule it for post 2pm since AIIMS Delhi is taking time off to welcome Maryada Purushottam Ram," she had posted.

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